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Sunday, January 10, 2010


by Tony Zurlo

Crisp autumn leaves crackle beneath her boots,
a present from her warrior hero during his first
tour defending the mainland from overseas.

She pulls her camouflaged jacket tighter—
another present from a foreign land—
desperate to retain any warmth within.

Promises break down like a weapon disassembled
for inspection, jargon lifted from classic films,
patriotism reduced to commercial clichés.

Her warrior overseas defending the mainland
from—She pried into memory for the right
movie, the right enemy, the righteous cause.

The French or British? The North African
pirates? Or the Mexicans? The damn Yankees?
The Indians? The Germans? The Japanese?

She kicks a bed of pine needles and falls.
A huge ball darkens the sun, and she shades
her eyes from the sun’s fiery corona.

She envisions her hero with bayonet drawn,
or planting a flag in the sand, or defending
her from an imminent attack by Klingons.

In mid-day mid-night, two knights in dress blue
walk slowly toward her, each step crushing
a hero’s promise, and offer her a folded flag.

Tony Zurlo has published books on Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Japanese Americans, West Africa, Algeria, Syria, and the United States Congress. His Op-eds and reviews have appeared in many newspapers and journals, including the Houston Chronicle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Online Journal, Dissident Voice, Peace Corps Writers, Democrats.US, and Writers Against the War.