The Iwo Jima I Never Knew

by Samuel De Lemos

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To the Iwo Jima I
never knew:

Standing guard
somewhere in
southern
California,

Holding my
rifle at
right shoulder
arms.

Two weeks into
boot camp
and I want to
run.

That busy highway
I saw from afar,
As I was checking
my perimeter,
I knew it led to
my backyard.

With spit-shined
boots my head
was ajar with
inconsolable
thoughts.

Wherever,
this journey
took me in camo
utilities, I made
an oath to see it
through.

I shot expert,
learned
to control
my fears.

Eventually,
I learned to be
a meritorious
Marine.

when I see
those tired
men raising
our colors
on that
God forsaken
Pacific Island,

with polish
gone from
their boots and
their spit-shine
drawn
with blood.

I knew they
didn’t run.

Their highways
led to different
fates and
unlike me, many
never
returned
home.