Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day Theme: Why Our National Anthem is the Best in the World

Reposted from 2009 for Flag Day because it is one of my personal favorites

To Robert, bien sur

It started with Henry the Eighth,
Speaking of Nonesuch, his would-be rival to Versailles:
"The sky will be spangled with stars,"
Before he sent the Plantagenets to kingdom come
With Henrician flair and became deformed, unlike
Richard "the winter of our discontent made glorious summer"
The Third, per the propaganda play by de Vere,
Based on the character assassinations of Saint Thomas
More, noted heretic burner, who famously called Luther,
Of the diet of worms and the 95 feces nailed to the door
To see which of them would stick,
"The shit coming out of the devil's asshole."
(Maybe that's why the Lutherans are leading the charge
To say "O Canada" is a better song when all that is is one
Magnificent view, and then it's all you can do
To look around for a place to get warm.)
A couple hundred years and a Portuguese spy named Colon
(Who let the Spanish "discover" America to preserve Brazil
And the African trade routes) later, some
Drunken, useless writer named Key gets tapped for
Disorderly conduct (aka pissing on a redcoat's boots),
And spends one very long night, of unrelenting brutality,
Like the kind you spend at Muhly's in Baltimore,
Where you're impressed like a sailor by a British girlfriend,
Who turns your shame into violence, your violence into shame,
And you question, really question, just why you're alive,
When your fabricated world is a corpse pulled apart by an ogre.
"In the dark night of the soul, it's always 3 o'clock in the morning,"
Key's grand-namesake declared, and it might have felt a little like that,
That bad night, with the only thing holding you together at the end
A ridiculous ragged flag, like a warm slice of peach cake,
Which seems like heaven itself, in the sunrise,
The beautiful acid sunrise on the psychedelic flag.
But it's not just a song about a flag (even though
That would already make it better than the French punk anti-song
And Germany uber alles who will crush you like a bug),
And it's not just about the way the word free, in the sense of
A runner too far ahead of the linebacker to be tackled,
Can be held for a nano-second or forever, or even how endurance
Makes us brave, in the sense of driving with the gas light on
Through the amber waves of Nebraska on a winter's night,
No, it's about the heart, the home, the place you go
After the killin' is through, where the drinking songs
Sound ennobled, the cat loves you for the fire you made,
And no one has to think about no stinking purple mountains,
Or any majesty, because you're glad to be alive,
That something astonishing has come from the horror,
Like the snowed-in night at a bar when necessity
Made inadvertent people invent buffalo wings.
Jimi Hendrix, its spiraling melody exploding in his head
As he parachuted into Vietnam, knew this.
Marvin Gaye, who didn't have to know about
Henry the Eighth's musicianship, or why he himself, on tour,
Always had one room for his preacher and another for his dealer,
Or even about Palestinian olive oil, FEMA death camps, Truman 12,
Or the judicial concept of "finality,"
Knew this.