The naked patriot

This poem has been whispering to me since Patriot’s Memorial Day of this year, when I saw a devastating installation at our local ice cream stand. It consisted of two stakes in the grass, one with a camo shirt and the other with a soldier’s helmet hanging off them. Between the two stakes lay a pair of black army boots.

The grass whispers while
The sun paints me a new skin

Like some kind of a
New-age still life
Your shirt hangs on a stake
Next to your helmet and boots
They remember you inside them
They feel the awkwardness
Of your absence

There is a hole in the air
The shape of your smile
And the wind, like your mother,
Longs to muss your hair
One more time

You fought for our right to
This Monday holiday and now
Your gun lies in the meadow
Covered in blood and oil

Everybody knows it’s like this
Ears and eyes and fingerprints
On our torpid lives
Everybody stampedes to the
Right side of the curve
Down an accidental escape route
Except it is no accident
Running for the exit
Except there is no scream

What were we shouting while
Our battle cry for love
Turned into the color of greed?
Oh, poets of Madison Avenue
Millenial farmers
(Whose father had not a
Snowball’s chance in hell
To have conceived all this
With a straight face)
His helmet is off to you!

The curtain is falling
And all we hear is the
Rustle of cockroaches
That we mistake for our
Non-negotiable cloaks
Made in factories raining
Down from the skies

Is it any wonder that
The Emperor has
No clothes?

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