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Ode to Billy Ray

In the North Florida flatlands,
as I walked up to the edge of a clearing, a small cemetery appeared. Under a Spanish moss covered cypress tree,
from a small placard a picture of a young soldier peered
up at me.

The little plaque simple read:
"Billy Ray…killed in action
in Vietnam on his nineteenth
birthday...
6th of  May 1968."

A warm summer breeze caresses the
leaves of the old cypress trees,  
and suddenly  the ground I
stood on seemed  hallowed
to me.

Over the past thirty years,
I’ve often thought
about how I met Billy Ray
on that sobering, sad day
in a small cemetery so
far, far away.  

And from time to time,
I shed a tear and think of Billy,
who on  his birthday,
gave his life for you and me.


Jackie R. Kays
Copyright…2002





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Ode to Billy Ray

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