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Monday, July 04, 2022


by Don Brunnquell

Terrified paradegoers fled the Highland Park, Ill., Fourth of July event after shots were fired Monday. At least six people were dead, more than 40 people were hospitalized and a gunman was at large Monday afternoon after shooting Fourth of July paradegoers from a roof in this Chicago suburb, authorities said. (Photo: Lynn Sweet/AP via The Washington Post, July 4, 2022)

            In the dark times
            Will there be singing?
            Yes, there will be singing.
            About the dark times.
—Bertolt Brecht, “Motto
Oh, say can you see, on this day
we celebrate what we used to call
one nation, with liberty and justice
for all, from every mountainside
let us sing all the songs our country
has earned, not only O beautiful
for spacious skies, but the mourning
dirge for today’s dead in Chicago parading
beside us with the children of Uvalde
and the spirit of George Floyd, not only
“Columbia the Gem of the Ocean”
but Woody’s “I Ain’t  Got No Home,”
and with fitting irony This land is your
land, this land is my land, recalling
whose land this really was, every verse
written on the mounds of the old bones.
Perhaps sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
not for the flag worship of the title,
but the lines, forever in peace
may you wave, and never a boast
or brag, sing “We Shall Overcome,”
but also the source of its tune,
“No More Auction Block For Me.”
All the songs need to be sung,
then return to “America the Beautiful,”
the closing lines of the second verse,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law. 

Don Brunnquell is a poet working in Saint Paul, MN after careers in pediatric psychology and bioethics.  He is one of the coordinators of the Midstream Poetry Series in the Twin Cities.