They asked him what he wanted to be
When he grew up and he said,
“Not a fireman or a police patroller, no,
Not a scientist or an astronaut…
I want to be superman and
Save the world.”
And they told him that
He could be just that.
With a buzz cut and a
Freshly pressed uniform,
He was proud.
And as his mother kissed her
Grown up baby boy goodbye,
She could smell the scent of
Aftershave on his neck rather than
Baby powder, but still the
Youthful innocence on his breath
In a whispered goodbye.
And when he came home years later,
He was older.
His arms had been accustomed to the presence of a gun
And felt strangely lightweight,
Like bones without the comfort of
The same flesh was creased with scars and
His eardrums were used to
Day by day routine crackles and bangs like
The fourth of July except it wasn’t
On a back porch. And those noises weren’t
Yes, he returned home to
Be held in his mother’s arms like he did
On that December morning when he was five,
When he received that bike he had window shopped for
Hours on end every day on his
Journey home from school.
Instead of a bike,
His ironed uniform was covered in the spit of
People in the streets,
People that he grew up with,
Those people that he could
Never remember the names of.
Yes, this time instead of frayed striped pajama bottoms,
He was clad in the outfit he was proud to wear
The medals that to him read honor and
To them read
They viewed him as a face of
A brainwashed puppet
Birthed from corrupted politicians,
They read the pride weaved through his gaze as
Tell me how you live in
The land of the free when
You didn’t pay respect to the brave.
Tell me how you have the right to
Open your lips and
Speak your mind when
You’re putting labels on
They aren’t just “those boys”, they are
Just because you don’t think your
Feet would fit in the boots that
March to protect a flag that our dedicated men and women
Gave their lives to,
Does not mean that they are the ones in the
How wrong of you it is to assume things about a person
When you haven’t read the letters home to
His ma about how he misses her home cooking and
To his brothers, instructing them to behave.
You see, a bird has to leave its nest
One time or another,
But the breeze that bird chooses to sail by
Isn’t always the choice of its mother.
Have you ever held a crumpled letter,
An artifact of ink and tearstains,
Knowing that it was penned by dead
Fingers of a man who grew up too fast and
Died like that too.
Fingers that fought until the twinges of
Their final twitches had stopped and
The flag was passed to another
Brother in arms.
So I pledge allegiance
To the flag
For those that laid their lives on the line
So we could live in the
Land of the free
And the home of them,