This is an Invocation
born, they say, from the forehead of her father
known as Pallas, she
of War, of Wisdom,
one with the blade, the loom,
or written word
look to our Lady of the Owls to find
she came from Zeus’s head
but embodies mortal, human mind.
For what are our brains but
caves that harbor contradictions —
War and Wisdom twist within
our noble words and maledictions.
We wake now from our history books
to see the clear-cut past
plunged into mist by the voices
of those who were, for so long,
kept in silence by the winds
of endless nights, lost in the
agony of the Middle Passage.
Our palace goddess,
patron saint of
Freedom and Democracy
demands all sides of history,
says 1619, not 1620.
Still one more truth inside the cave:
it used to be easy
to face a risen flag,
to see honor cast
in black and white, wrong and right.
The rope to raise the flag
remains unbroken, but
the strands are frayed
in our grasping fingers.
Nostalgia begs us to recall
a Rockwellean antiquity,
bygone eras that didn’t exist.
But we must be free to challenge this,
to welcome its disruption,
watch our settled history shrink,
slide away to nothing,
as a vanished drop of water fades.
There were no good old days.
An early morning, tender spring,
a flag in every room by law,
and every child stands to sing
the chanted pledge they learned last fall.
To those who’ve truly sacrificed,
the human hearts who gifted service
or their lives, the dearest price,
this forced allegiance serves no purpose.
as far as rote oaths go
but you cannot love
what you do not know.
Our heroes return to their homes broken
with limbs like phantoms,
their smiles made of rust and sand.
as though you stand
under the bone-white columns
of the Parthenon:
War and Wisdom
hand in hand, embodied in
Athena, patron of the brave,
counselor of heroes.
We have a democracy to save.
And as we honor and remember
we must embrace the mist and see
there is no honor in holding up
the tiny, fractured,
one-sided piece of a story.
The truth cannot destroy the potential of America,
only strengthen the
sweet whispered promise
of what we can be,
when we demand the self-evident truths
and call upon the promises made in 1776