Poem: Untitled

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On North Prospect Avenue
Disembodied flags floating above Prospect
What prospects are there for those facing them?
What do they mean?
Looming, warning, “How dare you forget” – they say
I didn’t forget
And hey, that’s my flag, too.
“Bought with patriots’ blood” – they say
Bought, yes, bought. Remember?
not rented
not leased to the highest bidder (for a limited time only),
only to be cleaned, repackaged, ready to be bought again
“When did it become weaponized?” – I ask
When wasn’t it? – witnesses to its meaning reply
Red = hardiness & valour *
Listen to someone from My Lai
Listen to a bashed queer
Disembodied flags undulating
dis-remembering dis-membering
and the writhing bodies as they fell
Disembodied flags floating – no staff seen at night. You know it’s there, though
That slanted crane, maybe a spine, a tether, a line, reeling the eager eel in.
“Got to have cranes to lift our Glory high. Heavy stuff, that righteous loyalty is” – they say
Heavy, hmm. Weighted down with dis-embodied patriots? Dis-emboweled martyrs?
Long dis-missed heroes.
White = purity and innocence *
Listen to a Black American
Listen to a farmer in Columbia
Disembodied flags dis-engaged from reality
Disregard truth, spotlighting only the past we want to believe
Disgust with distrust.
Read about the School of the Americas? Why did the name change?
Blue = vigilance, perseverance & justice *
Listen to a non-white, non-Christian these days
Listen to a Native American any day
Dis-embodied flag, dis-avowed from its ideals
Bright beacon, new immigrants’ hope
now leering,menacing, “No room for more! So sorry, do try again!”
Old immigrants’ hope got our families here …
just in time
Old Glory
Listen to a Gold Star Mom
Listen to an orphaned child
Old, yes, old. Glories? Stories?
“We saved their butts in Europe. How could they be so ungrateful?”
Glories, yes, resting on their …
Laurels … gathered from fields filled with heroes in distant lands.
We did not demand an Oath of Fealty. That is not our way.
Or it’s not supposed to be.
What glories now?
Forcibly liberated emaciated bruised beaten dysentery-infected people …
just as soon as it was in our interest to do so.
“How could those A-rabs be so ungrateful. They must have our ideals.”
And tough love for dis-loyal dissenters.
Old? Yes, old. Everlasting.
Gory Glory.
So when it is your loved one, dead for the cause, you can be sure you will get one
A flag of your very own,
made by a dollar-a-day laborer we delivered from oppression and into the hands of … Wal-Mart
Yes, you’ll get your very own flag,
resting lightly over your love
Cut loose from crooked spine,
folded slowly, pressed gently, now, to your breast, paid for again once.
No longer weaponized, cushioning your pain
Old Glories
Listen to a hero
Listen to a martyr
And when soldiers who can, do march home …
“Whew, that was tough. Lucky thing we were in the right” – the Prospect patriots will say
How will this gift, this symbol of our gratitude, your take-home token of respect compare to
the loving glance,
the warm touch,
that came from your hero,
who fought their martyr?
Will you hoist it? Encase it and dust it off for generations? Pack it away, too horrible to
“No matter, we’ll make more – war is good for the economy.”
And there are our prospects – cleaned, repackaged and ready to be bought again.
To float, disembodied,
close to faintly gleaming staff
Once more,
dis-remembering all dis-membering
Still looming,
not quite benignly in the dark
* definitions from www.usflag.org

Meg Miner says she is an advocate for democratic ideals (the ones we say we believe in, not the ones we thrust on others); a patriot scorned; a librarian; a working class woman, and a retired Air Force jet engine mechanic.

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