Under the Half-mast Flag

flag grief - December 16, 2012m
 

I first saw our flag at half-mast when I was seven—after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

When I returned from Thanksgiving vacation, I could see the flag from my schoolroom window…

When the wind was still and the half-mast flag lay limp against the pole, it was as if the whole country slumped toward the ground…

But even when the wind was brisk and the flag unfurled, the country seemed less than itself: it was shorter, smaller—a nation diminished.

Fifty years later, I experience these same feelings when I see our flag at half-mast.  I guess that symbol speaks to all ages.

Once again, the half-mast flag tells me that one person can bring us all down.  A single human being can lower millions.  How is that possible?

Well, we’re all in this endeavor together.  The half-mast flag tells me: the failure of one is the failure of all.

Such tragic bring us together, as hardly any other event can, in these fractious times.  Again, we find our truth: we’re all under the same flag.

That sad-looking flag mirrors my grief, which is our grief.  That flag at half-mast joins my grief to yours, to everyone’s.

In that way, strange to say, the flag at half-mast gives me some small comfort, some small hope.

© 2012, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry

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About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, essayist, cartoonist, graphic artist, peace miller, new mythologist, and fledgling world citizen.... I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and have lived and worked all over the United States.... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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