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Memorial Day

May 27, 2017 Leave a comment

I sat yesterday at the scene of a previous poem,
listening to a unctuous woman recite M. L.
Greenwood’s God Bless the USA,
cringing at how poorly she scanned it.

Poetry is often the refuge of people stuck
between an old truth and a new expression.
and I respect what they’re grasping for, and I’m proud
to be an American

So I played marches with the band,
sitting under a tent in a parking lot
and listened to a recording of I Am the Flag
the high school JROTC played through speakers
connected to someone’s iPhone, while they
passed a folded flag to anyone
who wanted to touch it.

The ritual would not have been diminished by
Quaker silence, an undeclared question.

He played taps again under the tree,
a sweet, sad, eternal bugle call.

Oddly Specific

May 28, 2012 4 comments

We may sometimes think the ones who died are the fortunate ones,
the deputy director of the regional Veteran’s Administration center
said this afternoon, to a small crowd assembled
under blue polyester awnings,
half of which was the volunteer concert band I was in.
The other half I suspected were spouses or perhaps even children
grown middle-aged themselves waiting for their fathers
to come back home from the war
with heart disease, cancer. And the stroke
of three o’clock found us standing in silence
while the local reporters, strangely beautiful and young
literally ran around with cameras to get the wreath-laying
and my friend playing taps into the paper
like they do every year to remember.