The Anthem

If famous poets had written "The Star-Spangled Banner"

She being brand
New he threw
A flag over h
Er & began
The bombard
Ment & was soon
Rocketing
A (long) & feeling
Braveandfreeand(proudly)perilous
Can you see? Said he
Oui oui, said she
And it was love and it was
Spring and roses and it was
Dawn &
He
B
U
R
S
T
Into song.
E. E. Cummings

This is just to say
I have taken
The flag
That was
Flying

And which
You probably expected
To see
This morning

Forgive me
It was beautiful
So free
And so brave
William Carlos Williams

Up in the night to piss
Saw the flag
Stripes & stars
Reflected in the stream
& in the morning
Still there
Gary Snyder

On the ship, I sit and wait for the dawn
In the midst of the bombs and rockets and so forth,
A prisoner of these British marines who might shoot me,
You never know in a situation like this.

Like so many great moments in history,
You come upon it without meaning to.
You're a lawyer who goes to negotiate for the release of a prisoner
And voilà you become one yourself.

There is this incredibly perilous fight going on
And I suppose a person should be thinking about freedom
Or bravery but I must admit
I would give anything for a cup of coffee right now.

Like a Starbucks made by a girl in a striped blouse,
A latte streaming and gleaming.
But that seems less likely at the moment
Than Betsy Ross doing a striptease, stripe by stripe.

The graceful arc of the rockets, like Don
Larsen's curve ball for the Bronx Bombers.
He was a hero and then suddenly he was gone.
I wonder what's going to happen to that flag.

Somebody could write a poem about this,
Something to mark this whole thing that's going on,
But if they did, probably they shouldn't include
The coffee and the part about Betsy dropping the flag.
Billy Collins

Garrison Keillor is the host of A Prairie Home Companion, on public radio on Saturday nights.
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