Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Bright with light, the flag
ripples on the Jumbotron
as they ask those who’ve served
to stand. Stand to be
honored. Stand for us to show
our appreciation. Please
stand. Come on stand,
my friend, Sal, says. So I stand
with other men who stand
in ball caps and button-up jerseys
in the many sections and rows.
Some, holding plastic trays of nachos
and cardboard carriers with jumbo Cokes,
move to their seats quickly,
hunching, embarrassed, not wanting
to take credit for serving
from those who did, from those who stand.
Some stand still and just salute
the digitized wind-whipped flag.
Some with hands in their pockets
twist to see others in the park
who also stand. In the service
I always stood when officers
entered a room. In the service I served
more than thirty days in a combat zone
which qualified me to wear
the combat patch.
After the service, they always asked
where’d you serve. The Sandbox?
The Stan? The Storm? In the service
I often serviced my weapon. I served
boiled carrots on Kitchen Patrol
and some mornings I served
by stirring shit to make it
burn better. I served
by closing my eyes
during IED steel and smoke. I served
by running through a marsh
into a home through a doorway
of blue linen hanging
like a piece of laundry. Inside
I served by opening each drawer,
each cabinet, looking for wires
and weapons while women screamed in a room
where we’d put them with the children
away from the men
we’d put in another room
to be watched while we searched. I served
by handing out Peppermint candies
to children in villages
as fathers and mothers stood in doorways
not speaking, even though if they did
we’d never know what they were saying. I served
standing on dirt streets,
pacing through alleys and avenues
with thumb on the safety
past furious dogs and children
who’d wave or run
even as I, sometimes, just stood
doing nothing but waving
with my left hand
in a constant light, that same
sunlight that makes this little
blonde-haired girl glow
as she holds a microphone
with two hands at home plate
while the entire stadium now stands
then everyone, suddenly,
goes silent to hear her sing.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015