“I’m waiting. I don’t want just any poppy.”
A questioning look.
“I appreciate these volunteers, but, what are they, cadets?”
“You want a grey-haired veteran.”
“Something like that.”
“Give me a few minutes.”
I browse a bookstore.
“Here is your poppy from an approved veteran.”
“Will you allow me to do the honors?” The veteran asks.
I smile. Rags says thanks too.
The Mascot Speaks
They say I can’t go back with him,
They say we dogs are banned.
They told him that. They didn’t think
That I could understand.
I’ve had him pretty near a year,
Since I was just a pup.
I used to be a sort of bum,
And then — he picked me up.
We’ve slept together in the rain,
And snow, too, quite a lot.
Cold nights we kept each other warm
Some days we ate — some not.
Once he went to the hospital,
I followed. They said, “No.”
He swore a lot and told the doc
Unless I stayed, he’d go.
He’s going to go home pretty soon
And leave me here — oh well —
I wonder if dogs have a heaven?
I know we’ve got a hell.
Rags. “The Mascot Speaks.” The Stars and Stripes, March 21, 1919, American Expeditionary Forces, Paris, France, 1918-1919.
Note: The Stars and Stripes newspaper featured soldier-authored material. “The Army’s Poets” column appeared May 3, 1918 and became the newspaper’s most widely read column. Soldiers submitted more than seventy-five thousand poems and many not selected for publication by The Stars and Stripes were published after the war.
For more information see Library of Congress Collection: Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers’ Newspaper of World War I, 1918 to 1919.