Fourth of July

From JULY, by Sean Bentley

    “Defenceless under the night
    Our world in stupor lies;
    Yet, dotted everywhere,
    Ironic points of light
    Flash out wherever the Just
    Exchange their messages...”    

       W. H. Auden, Sept. 1, 1939

1. July 4, 1992

Terrible weather hoods Elliott Bay tonight.
From Vashon, Eagle Harbor, all points around the Sound,
boats head for Seattle’s fireworks. The obliterated
stars have unmasked themselves n the dark water,
coalescing into a patriotic nebula.
Red right return.

The clouds incarnadine. A fistful of blazing
shards tears from the smoke and fog toward
shore, toward us, with a resonant
kaboom. The crowd goes ape,
imagining the glorious blossom.
“Stars and Stripes

Forever” blares in simulcast.
Next Fourth, the next, will I refrain
from boring my son with parables
of rockets over Bosnia, Iraq, over
what-all? America’s screens will display
points of light somewhere flowering.

Our sons, theirs, such as survive,
heading home under cover of dark,
in red gauze or other righteous dress.
Just the facts, reeling from the idiot box
like vapor trails, dark tickertape.
A sort of celebration.

Well. Red right return.
Afterward, the crowd slogs
through the storm to their warm
nests to turn the covers back.
To sleep. Stars of light.
Wide stripes of dark. Forever.

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