Shall we pretend we don’t see it?
Shall we form a circle of intertwined hands
Around a campfire and flagpole, and ignore
Its beady eyes, which glow as it watches us
From within the forest’s great wall?
The ones with their backs turned to it
Will be the first to be mauled, while the remainder
Of us continue to worship Old Glory in song.
We serve this deity, which is neither false nor true,
Praying for it to protect us from whatever malevolent
Creature is out there in the woods. But we know damn well
That this cloth cannot even protect itself from fire;
How can it protect us from the thing that hunts us?
The monster remains just out of the firelight’s reach,
Draped in shadows and stench. It attacks whoever
Lets down his or her guard. Each day, another one
Of our number is savagely torn limb by limb, creating
A gap in our circle. The task falls upon the nearest neighbors
To unceremoniously close it. We survive in constant fear.
Yet we still believe this symbol flapping above us–
Which doesn’t have the ability to lower itself from its pole–
Has power enough to shelter us from the forest’s primal beast.
We outnumber the creature, and, if unified against it,
We possibly could defeat it while only suffering minimal casualties.
Surely no more than our losses from its slaughter during our song singing.
But instead, we rely on an indifferent, inanimate object to be our savior.
And for that, our kind shall perish from this Earth.
A. J. Hayes
Give a poet a pen