Future Leader of America

Honor Roll Student

I've been called all these things,

but never in my life

an enemy of the state

As a star student

I've never missed a due date

But this might be one I have to miss.

July 13th – the middle of summer

and the day I move to the internment camp

The call came from every building

and was posted in store windows—

the brick sides of buildings

screamed identical messages:

All persons of Japanese ancestry

must report to the Civil Control Station

Some boys at school wanted to rebel

They tried to tear down the posters

and throw rocks through the windows of stores

who hung it up

In my neighborhood

there was one store—

Murphy's Convenience—

that kept its windows

free of the announcement

My friends and I often got ourselves

a pop or cola

and when we could afford it

an ice cream

It was the only store we could go into

because the other shopkeepers gave us the stink eye

and pointed to the poster

I headed to Murphy's for some candy

but some cops went in ahead of me

I would have continued in

but they had hands on their guns

Mr. Murphy was being yelled at

He yelled back at them,

his double chin quivering

in fury or fear

or maybe both

But the cops left

and the window was without poster

I went in and gave him a sale

a symbol of my gratitude

Two long licorice straws

and two colas

I told him to have one of the latter

He looked shocked, that man,

but he chuckled and complied

Two days later

I went back

To my shock

the poster was up at Murphy's

the colorful construction paper was

a symbol of intolerance and suspicion

I rushed in and rang the bell

because he wasn't at the counter

but I saw him peering at himself

in a mirror

I could see his reflection—

bruises covered his face—

I'll be right out, he said

I ran out though

I had to pack

I was going to camp