What a Patriot Dreams

Starlight 03
What a Patriot Dreams

I saw the flags come down—
their masts falling like the trees
flattened by shockwaves
in those clips of old footage
from military nuclear bomb tests,
spliced into high school history documentaries.

They weren’t projected celluloid etchings
that teenagers confined to plastic chairs
could summarily cancel
with one hand motioning No
in the universal vernacular…

Caught in a wash of floodlights
on the indigo summer dusk,
the red-white-blue swaths crushed
in on themselves like torn parachutes,
& all vanished at once—deposed

by morning’s first, grainy insinuations
that breached the blinds’ periphery,
& accreted into a single, silent force
creeping along my bedroom walls,
as if to thwart illumination:

In this country of my own
birth & citizenship, I’ve, in turn,
given birth to two, precious children—

my riven heart’s two halves now trussed
in a spectacular fiasco of feathers & wax.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“What a Patriot Dreams” was first published (in slightly different form) in the November 2018 issue of CatheXis Northwest — thank you to editor C. M. Tollefson for selecting this piece for inclusion in your beautiful journal — and appears in my newest chapbook, The Death’s-Head’s Testament, available NOW for pre-sale purchase for the fantastic price of $6.50 per copy (currently slated for release in April 2019)!

CLICK THIS LINK to my author page at Main Street Rag, which includes commentary on and sample poems from The Death’s-Head’s-Testament, to order your copy today, that the poetry gods shall smile on you for all the rest of your days!! 

What a Patriot Dreams

Desert Flags2
What a Patriot Dreams

 

I saw the flags come down—
in a scene that scrolled in slo-mo,
& from multiple vantages—
their masts falling like the trees
flattened by shockwaves
in those clips of old footage
from military nuclear bomb tests,
spliced into documentaries
for high school history classes;

except, my dream version’s vivid images
weren’t the projected celluloid etchings
that teenagers confined to plastic chairs
could summarily cancel from sight
with one hand motioning No
in the universal vernacular.

From a sweeping arc of floodlights
that rendered the indigo skyline
of an early-summer dusk starless,
the flags all vanished at once—
their wingless, red-white-blue heaps
crushing in on themselves, darkening,
& dropping like torn parachutes.

Sleep’s last claim on my consciousness
was that horizon of empty haloes
the mass plummet had left behind,
before my eyes fluttered open
to this morning’s first, grainy insinuations
that breached the blinds’ periphery,
& accreted into a single, silent force
creeping along my bedroom walls,
as if it could somehow thwart illumination
of my most preposterous, waking truth:

that in this country of my own
birth & citizenship, I’ve, in turn,
given birth to two, precious children—

my riven heart’s two halves now trussed
in a spectacular fiasco of feathers & wax.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

I wrote this poem a little over a week ago upon waking—or, rather, not having the luxury of waking—from the nightmare of our country succumbing before our eyes to a fascist coup. I don’t generally post such new, raw work, but there seemed to be little sense in waiting with this one.