Blood into Tree into Liberty

I’m sorry, have we met before? -Shit, from Shinola

Today’s a day for mainly blank faces,
And stunted little flags too stiff to flap,
Some sort of somber, standing, staring thing
The people pantomime patriotically
While the song plays before the plays begin.
Is the hand on your heart sincere, citizen?
Are your feels feely enough?

And here I’d make my traditional demand:
“Where’s my cake, bitches?” Half-hearted.
Not for the elusive pastry
Much too substantial to be made real
In the enactment of this piety play
That carries out on manicured lawns
And emblazoned on the backs of mini vans,
Rasped breath of believers breathlessly rapt.
But of the way this day tries to make
Something dead of the living
And something living of the dead.

I mean we still don’t know what to do with Lt. Dan.
No nice neat pine repositories for the soldiers
Who come back inconveniently alive,
Sometimes still sizzling from the scramble,
Who failed to honor the alchemy of freedom,
Blood into tree into liberty.
Gold into lead instead,
Beggars and lunatics,
stammerers and retail associates,
The occasional seventh district congressional candidate.
That whole purity in death thing
Isn’t just for the ladies.

But I don’t mean that in a bad way,
Ha ha! A little ambivalence warms my cockles.
Hell, it’s getting kind of hard to see how the transaction
is supposed to work these days, amirite?
How much freedom accrues to you, citizen,
When a cruise missile melts some aging patriarch’s
Bony face right through his own wheelchair?
Still, don’t lose faith, citizen! Somewhere in Washington
I’m sure there’s a bean counter
Specially qualified to count the beans of freedom.

Nevertheless, if you asked, maybe not today,
Since that would not be in keeping with this holiday,
But say, a couple months from now,
“What have you done for me lately?”
(Addressing, as it were, the flag flying over
All those combat boots stomping in unison
In the military of your imagination),
Well, then I’d say, “Good for you.”
That sounds like freedom, right? The kind of thing
We’re being honored for fighting for today?
So go right ahead.
Ask whether that one bill extending benefits to veterans
Really needs to get passed.

You fucking traitor.


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