Can be fragile, easy
to fade or be erased, all

It takes is a single heavy hand
or a legend thrown

Like a gauntlet, the hand that opens
an island’s body, an autopsy.

Nothing says empire
like a flag, says republic like fabric

Stretched & strung, swathes
of land tethered, a sanguine stitch

Of the tongue, language conquers
from within     before the blade

Separates flesh & kin,
breath & the line, all

Broken by a wall
& a people’s history

Crumbling in another’s wake

From Blood/Sound (Central Square Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Fred L. Joiner. Used with the permission of the author.