Apartments Over Downtown Businesses

Paul draped
the Stars & Stripes about his shoulders.

Not for patriotism
but for the chill air blowing over bare skin.

All the time he wore
the flag as a granny’s shawl

his inner ear heard the Marine Corp band
play John Phillip Sousa marches.

He stewed in his thoughts
that politically opposed sides

stampeded issues
like spooked longhorns

ready to gore and trample anything
in their path.

Eventually a Red Cross worker
removed the thin and ember-perforated flag

from over his shoulders
and replaced it with a wool blanket.

A lovely neighbor lady who lost
just as much to the fiery riot

sat next to him and clutched his hand
comforted in the familiar face

but unknown man
she sees regularly at the corner cafe.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

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