stars and bars

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.


A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

16.3 (Summer 2016)





I Will Salute No More Forever
George Shirley

Some strong political convictions poetically orbit the hot-button issue of the Confederate Stars-and-Bars… and the gravitational force of the poet’s universe does NOT draw them where you might expect.

Last year I gave the Stars-and-Bars
A high hoist and salute
Because they to her would impute
Such tenets as no man regards—

The “they” I mean, the superior minds
That teach us to comply
With visions they bring from on high
Of how to order humankind:

Celestial things, you know, like, “Whip
Thou not thy brother’s back;
No ugliness of white on black;
Don’t swear—and kindly cease to dip!”

Such stuff as Southerners never guess
When left to sift it all—
We simian, inbred bores who call
The Lord our barbecue to bless.

A year ago, I creid, “Hold back,
Leave off this righteous cant.
Our daddies strayed; no cause is that
For Pot to call Dame Kettle black.

“They knew that slavery should be banned
As Mr. Lincoln said.
And yet, his Proclamation let
It linger on in Maryland.

“We know the Trail of Tears was cold—
But I’m part Cherokee;
What taint besmirched your family tree
As your sires bled the Sioux for gold?

“We sit (you think) in summer’s slime
A-fanning on our proches,
Doped by magnolias, counting roaches,
Waiting Aunt Fay’s roast to grind,

“ A-talking ’bout that colored boy
Is bound to win the Heisman,
The long vacation Rev’rend Dyson’s
Daughter took, and hemorrhoids.

“There’s none of that in Northern states:
No bigotry at all
(Unless afoul your P.C. laws
A baker ices wedding cakes).

“No laziness: those homeless people
Now have jobs with Uber;
No drugs or rats—and Mr. Bloomberg
Made obesity illegal.

“If Southerners did not exist,
You’d have to go invent ’em.
If Northerners lacked Rebel brethren,
What would say the Darwinist?”

So answered I last year, and waved
My Stars-and-Bars uncowed;
Defeated but forever proud
(I thought), the other cheek I gave.

And then… and then, my world collapsed.
My people played the script
As penned for them by Yankee wits:
Of caricature they made fact.

The Constitution that we’d claimed
Our gran’dads fought to keep
Was championed by a man—but “z”
Indecorously sealed his name.

Instead, the blue-eyed punditry—
The slinky blondes of FOX,
All Ivy League and Beltway-boxed—
We honor as an FFV.

We pump fists for a scalawag
Who measures girls by curve
And bibles it as he would blurb
Another book on conning swag.

We’d claimed secession as a right
If e’er by mob engulfed;
But now a heedless mob’s impulse
Sends Rebel yells into the night.

Our enemies in effigy
We carry like the Klan;
And none of us will bide the man
Who calms, because he ends in “z”.

“We”, “our”… enough; I’m not of you.
I know thee not. Thy kiss
Is slippery as a Judas’s,
And paid for, like thy master new.

The Stars-and-Bars now closet-bound
I furl, and sorely doubt
That ever more I’ll have her out
Since angel’s horn brings only hounds.

George Shirley lives with his family in the Clemson area and travels throughout the South Carolina region in connection with the growing home-school movement.