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

All American Breakfast

You poured a bowl
of fireworks for breakfast.

This diet explains
your star spangled disposition.

Your glorious flag
leans upon your shoulder

as if seeking comfort
like a child.

In solidarity, I let you
finger paint the stars and stripes

on my left cheek
but refused to wear

an Uncle Sam suit
to visit your homing pigeon roost.

I checked the freshness date
of your boxed pyrotechnics

and found the red
had an earlier expiration

than either the white
or the blue.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney