Three Flags by Jasper Johns

Street of Flags

by Janet I. Buck

I don't recall another 4th
where seas of U.S. flags
bedecked a solid mile of road.
The avenue is lined in cloth,
a carpet to the wasted graves
of those we dug and dug to find.
Years before their stitches
didn't make the quilt --
somehow thin accessory
converts into a winter coat.
Thousands of bends, hundreds of hands
placed these markers on the rue.
These are the tags of our shirts
poking out from twitching necks
that worry the world
will serve them the meal
of a subsequent bomb.
We'll always sleep
with this kink in our spine.

I watch the eyes of other drivers
dripping with the hailstones --
working ice dots into rain.
Tears develop in their caves,
the cool debris of waterfalls
ribboning ten months of drought.
NYC memories are cobwebs
with their maps on fire.
Our little town requires a fist.
A clench that speaks --
a fingering of lily pads
from wings of swans
determined the lake
is a crossable feast --
a spasm of pride arching
the trammeled foot.
This is a year aching for color
after the ocean of ash.

©2002 by Janet I. Buck

Janet I. Buck

Janet I. Buck is a three-time Pushcart Nominee and the author of four collections of poetry. Her work has recently appeared in Three Candles, PoetryBay, Red River Review, Artemis, The Pedestal Magazine, Runes, Poetry, Southern Ocean Review, CrossConnect, Offcourse, The American Muse, and hundreds of journals worldwide. In 2001 and 2002, Buck has received awards from Kota Press, Sol Magazine, Kimera, L'Intrigue, and The Critical Poet. Janet's latest book, Ash Tattoos: 9/11 & the Aftermath of War, is available at The ZeBook Company. See more of her work at her Web site.

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