flag of the usa on a pole

The Dealership on Van Ness

Old Glory flies
Above the Toyota flag
Over the dealership on Van Ness
Warning passers by that
You don’t mess with the military might
Of the best of the very best.
But if war is good, and war is just
And bombs can provide a solution
Why do I feel the heat of shame
Rising in my brain
And have the urge to beg for
Absolution?
On the streets of Higarigaoka
Back in ‘99
A woman held out her hand to me
Whilst holding a hand written sign.
It said ‘ban the bomb’ and
‘An end to war’
Her body shook, her skin was raw,
She tried to speak my language.
She said to me she was but six years old
When America dropped the bomb
And left her in eternal bandages.
Her mother she evaporated,
Her father already died,
Her brother he did not survive.
Some kindly doctor with
A soul of steel had dressed her
Arms and back.
Her wounds never healed, not really,
And pain was the one thing
That she never ever lacked.
I apologized, let her speak her
Piece, and then I walked away
But was caught forever looking back.
To love a flag is all well and good
But to love humanity is much better
Because when the sky rains fire
And civilization burns
War proves peace is nothing
But a dirty little liar.
Old Glory flies above the Toyota
Flag on the roof
Of the dealership on Van Ness
And all those years have come and gone
But civilization is still a bloody mess,
And nothing has been proved to me
Except that people get much meaner
And birds of a feather flock together
When war becomes theater.
And when the bombs start falling
The peace is sacrificed to reasons
And excuses,
And I'll never find the words 
To tell how the human heart should
Transcend all visible boundaries
And resist all evil uses.
And how the hibakusha
In Higarigaoka
Taught me a lesson
In humility and shame
And how the economy of death
And destruction
Is always to fucking blame. 

2 Comments

  1. slpmartin

    The levels of irony in this verse ..an American Flag flying above a Toyota dealership…a company that employed W. Edward Deming’s TQM (Total Quality Management Model) to build itself up after the war…are brilliantly presented.

    1. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

      I walked past there today, and thought I wonder if anyone considers it at least ironic in the extreme to fly the American flag above the Toyota one. I struggled to write this one. Swear words aren’t generally poetic. Hope you are well, my friend. Im wrestling with a few poems right now trying to say what I mean without being mean in what I say.

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