It is after dinner and I go to shake
the crumbs from the tablecloth.
They fall down onto the porch steps
for the crickets and the mice and ants.
We live in a great country
there is enough for all.
The tablecloth unfurls lightly on the held breath
of the still fall night air
and it seems to me to be like a flag
with the blue stripe all around the border
and the blue stripe enclosing the field at center
a field which encloses some flowers
but could not hold in even all the flowers
since some of them have escaped
and drifted, as on water or a breeze
toward the bright blue border.
It is the flag of the friendly country
where even the vermin have enough to eat
and I’m waving it from my porch for you.
I want you to come and join me
and my family, I want you to sit
at my table and have bread and lasagna with us
so we can talk about the war and the taxes.
I want you to help me shake crumbs on the porch
I want to wash it and iron it and fold it safely
to place it gently and with respect in the drawer
for our next dinner when we will not have
marched under any other flag
for I know you could not be a traitor to me
we will all be so insanely happy
we had not yet had to die for any cause.
I want you to spill your wine
I want you to get bread crumbs on my flag.
[Initially self-published in When There Wasn’t Any War, The Backwaters Press, 1987, with ½ proceeds donated to Nebraskans for Peace. Anthologized in A Sandhills Reader: Thirty years of great writing from the Great Plains, Mark Sanders, Ed., Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2015. Anthologized in Nebraska Poetry; A Sesquicentennial Anthology, Daniel Simon, Ed., Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2017. Forward by Twyla Hansen, Nebraska State Poet. Included in Leaving Things Unfinished: Forty-some Years of Poems, (Selected Poems), Mark Sanders, Ed., Sandhills Press, scheduled for 2018 publication.]
Greg Kosmicki is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poems. He founded The Backwaters Press in 1997 and is Emeritus Editor. He and his wife, Debbie, are parents of three and grandparents of two. Greg has been involved in peace and justice and anti-war efforts since the early 1980s.
Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).