Salute the Flag

The planes explode across my TV screen.
What does it mean?
It’s raining bodies in New York City today.
I see them jump from the hundredth floor
like tears streaking down the cheeks of Lady Liberty.
I thought I must have been in a theatre
but two hours passed
and there wasn’t any sign of
Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwartzenegger
or even the Man of Steel
swooping down from the sky
to catch the people before they die.
What does it mean?
What have I seen?
Before the bodies even hit the ground
I could hear the sound
of the National Anthem
drowning out the screams of the fallen.
I hear the Army calling
but I hang up the phone
all alone in the glare of a made-for-TV movie.
Somehow their cheesy flag waving doesn’t move me
as much as the stench of steaming blood
being poured into the fuel tank of a war machine.
What’s going on behind the screen?
What does it mean?
They say we’ve got to unite behind the flag
that blood-soaked blue, white, and crimson rag
that they shoved down the throat of the world
until it puked up Osama bin Laden.
We trained that man.
We put a gun in his hand
and we didn’t give a damn
who he blew up with it.
Now we’re knee-deep in shit
projectile bits of flying feces
flung at my face through the TV screen.
What does it mean?
Who’s putting the spin on what I’ve seen?
I see Uncle Sam goose-stepping through the smouldering rubble.
He fishes through the shattered concrete and melted steel
wrapping his bony hands around the throats of what we feel
and shoving thousands of scorched corpses
into a red, white, and blue body bag.
He strings the bodies up wrapped in a flag
and it makes me gag
to see him wave them around like meat
for the god of war to eat.
He points to the flagpole.
“Salute!”
“Salute, or I’ll shoot!”
But the point is moot.
What are we fighting for?
When are we going to stand up to this god of war
and show his sorry ass the door?
If I fly a flag, Uncle Sam,
it’s going to be black.
Black for the bones burned by the man you trained
black for the smoke that lingers in the falling rain
black for the soot-soaked tears that we cried
and black for the thousands who died.
But most of all
I fly the black flag to blot out the red, white, and blue
that you wrap like a noose around the throats of the world.
Black for the ashes of a dying empire
that give birth to a phoenix –
or is it a dove?
Black for the night sky above
and the dreams of love
that will awaken with the morning sun
when the rose replaces the gun.
Black for the soil that holds and feeds the seeds
for the dark warmth of the mother’s womb
a newborn waiting to escape the tomb
of a Lady Liberty poisoned by Pentagon walls
and the hallowed halls of global capitalism.
And even as my flag
blots out the red of blood
the white of supremacy
and the blue of war
I pass the black banner around as a blanket
to cover a people shivering in the chill
of a night that fires in the sky made colder.
But sunrise is just over the next hill
and if we refuse to swallow that jagged red, white, and blue pill
then tomorrow we’ll wake up together
and no matter how bad the weather
the skies will be clear.

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My name is Treesong. I'm a father, author, talk radio host, and Real Life Superhero. I live in Carbondale, Southern Illinois. I write novels, short stories, and poetry, mostly about the climate.

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