Slumped in a prickly armchair 
on a humid summer night, 
I listened dully to dogs
barking with brainless pleasure 
far away and in this street 
under the Victory flags.

The bronze eagles with spread wings, 
flightless on walls and porches, 
reflected the light from stars, 
as my slow imaginings 
moved between foreign corpses 
and these Stars and Stripes of ours.

Sweaty, itching, impotent,
I scratched my shirtless shoulder 
and reached for another beer — 
like a listless President 
dreaming a new world order 
from idle thoughts and hot air.

Or like someone long inured 
to the crafted, public lies 
that lull the popular mind 
into easy disregard 
for the coarse realities 
of imperial command.

The Heroes were coming home —
but not to me in my chair 
dogged by barks and disarray; 
"Welcome!" the flags flapped, "Welcome! 
you fought for all we hold dear 
in the mighty USA."

Copyright © 1991 by Tony Connor. Appears courtesy of the author.