FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Memorial Day

by DOUGLAS VALENTINE

It’s 1959 and I’m standing on a sidewalk
In Pleasantville, New York,
Holding the American flag in my hand.
It’s really hot in the bright sunshine,
But I stand at attention like a good soldier,
Watching for my father, who smiles and waves as he passes by,
In this home of the free, and land of the brave.
He’s with the village war veterans, they’re marching to the beat
Of the Fire Department band sweeping down the street —
The horns blare, the drums pound, the cymbals crash,
And my consciousness cracks like shattered glass.

The band’s overtaken by soaring boys on bikes.
They’ve woven the spokes on their spinning wheels
With red white and blue crepe paper,
And the tiny fluttering flags on their handle bars
Make them look like fantastic flying sparklers.

It’s so damn dazzling, I have to look away,
Down at my feet, and I’m starting to sway
From the glare off the concrete in my eyes.
I squint and I swoon and look up at the sky
Where the light on the leaves of the sugar maple trees
Reflects off the chrome of the cars on the street
And I’m breathless, I’m dizzy, I’m overdone.
The one thing I know, this isn’t fun.

“Don’t you ever let that flag touch the ground!”
Snaps a grouchy old man, twisting my arm up so it hurts.
Aghast at my treachery, disapproving spectators stare.
I feel their looks in the depths of my soul.
What else could a ten year old boy do but slink away
And chuck that fuckin’ flag over the first privet hedge?

Yes, it was there and then that I knew that being
A good citizen was too much responsibility
For anyone as weak and as young as I.
To this day my favorite part of the Memorial Day Parade
Is the sound of the street cleaner
Pushing the red white and blue flakes of confetti
Into his pan and pouring them,
With a soft sweet silent swoosh, into his pail.

 

DOUGLAS VALENTINE is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His fourth book, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968, which received the Choice Academic Excellence Award and is being published in Russia. The sequel, The Strength of the Pack, is being published by University Press of Kansas in 2008. For information about Mr. Valentine, and his books and articles, please visit his web sites at www.DouglasValentine.com and http://members.authorsguild.net/valentine

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail