By Michael B. Conway
A pyramid of cannonballs
beneath a naked flagpole,
as bees drink Coca Cola
from a green glass bottle stem,
Salvation Army refugees
sack out on picnic tables,
laid out like Sunday chicken
for mosquitoes and black flies.
A bent-backed colored feller
hacks the Johnson grass to ribbons
near a statue of the Colonel
who once owned his Mama’s kin.
A station wagon Yankee
shoots a snapshot of a traitor
while his children beg for Graceland
and his wife refolds the map.
Cement cannons guard the square,
their barrels stopped with garbage,
they defend against tomorrow,
holding ugly truths at bay.
And fat old men with bony dogs
squeeze one last drop of glory
from the one war that was fought
and yearn for honor in its fight.
Pick-up bumpers fly their flag,
their grandsons whistle Dixie,
white-washed columns keep the roof
from falling on their dreams.
And white sheets hang from cotton lines
like ghosts of broken Rebels,
and the crosses on the churches
pray for lightning so they’ll burn.