Tue, 08/13/2013 - 15:44 -- csharif


They asked him what he wanted to be

When he grew up and he said,

“Not a fireman or a police patroller, no,

Not a scientist or an astronaut…

 I want to be superman and

Save the world.” 

And they told him that

He could be just that.

With a buzz cut and a

Freshly pressed uniform,

He was proud. 

And as his mother kissed her

Grown up baby boy goodbye,

She could smell the scent of

Aftershave on his neck rather than

Baby powder, but still the

Youthful innocence on his breath

In a whispered goodbye. 


And when he came home years later,

He was older.

His arms had been accustomed to the presence of a gun

And felt strangely lightweight,

Like bones without the comfort of

Soft flesh.

The same flesh was creased with scars and

Battle cries.

His eardrums were used to

Day by day routine crackles and bangs like

The fourth of July except it wasn’t

On a back porch.  And those noises weren’t



Yes, he returned home to

Be held in his mother’s arms like he did

On that December morning when he was five,

When he received that bike he had window shopped for

Hours on end every day on his

Journey home from school. 

Instead of a bike,

His ironed uniform was covered in the spit of

People in the streets,

People that he grew up with,

Those people that he could

Never remember the names of.

Yes, this time instead of frayed striped pajama bottoms,

He was clad in the outfit he was proud to wear

The medals that to him read honor and

To them read



They viewed him as a face of

A brainwashed puppet

Birthed from corrupted politicians,

They read the pride weaved through his gaze as

A hallucination.   

Tell me how you live in

The land of the free when

You didn’t pay respect to the brave.

Tell me how you have the right to

Open your lips and

Speak your mind when

You’re putting labels on



They aren’t just “those boys”, they are

Our boys.

American boys.

Just because you don’t think your

Feet would fit in the boots that

March to protect a flag that our dedicated men and women

Gave their lives to,

Does not mean that they are the ones in the



How wrong of you it is to assume things about a person

When you haven’t read the letters home to

His ma about how he misses her home cooking and

To his brothers, instructing them to behave.

You see, a bird has to leave its nest

One time or another,

But the breeze that bird chooses to sail by

Isn’t always the choice of its mother.


Have you ever held a crumpled letter,

An artifact of ink and tearstains,

Knowing that it was penned by dead

Fingers of a man who grew up too fast and

Died like that too.

Fingers that fought until the twinges of

Their final twitches had stopped and

The flag was passed to another

Brother in arms.


So I pledge allegiance

To the flag

For those that laid their lives on the line

So we could live in the

Land of the free

And the home of them,

The brave.    



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