Anthem
Not standing when Star-Spangled Banner played
                  by Milwaukee Symphony outdoors in Marcus Amphitheater,
                                    near Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee
                  before the Beethoven’s Ninth Concert,
Everyone else standing, everyone else singing,
Putting my head in one hand as it plays so heroic,
Thinking of all the Iraqi dead,
                  the dead men murdered by our soldiers
                                    as they retreated,
Thinking of Vietnam, My Lai, Wounded Knee, Dresden, Nagasaki,
Thinking back to Washington Park 20 years ago Vietnam War era
                  one summer eve the Star-Spangled Banner played
                                    before Pagliacci
                  and not standing then, everyone standing,
                                    not singing then, everyone singing,
Remembering the hateful threats and curses whispered
                  behind me.
Now no curses or threats, only singing sadly and sweetly
                  mothers and fathers whose voices seem
                                    soft-spoken and sorrowful too
                  as if they think me Vietnam Veteran
                                    remembering his bestfriend killed there
                  and remember their bestfriend
                                    killed in World War II or Korea,
No tone of defiant patriotism to my ears,
No growl of rage in the melody,
Only a sound of many melancholy voices trying
                  to sound cheerful, hopeful, trying
                                    to believe we still are
                  the great nation we were taught we were
                                    and thought we were
                  in gradeschool,
No tone of hate or scorn — as if they understand
                  why I will never stand
                                    for the Star-Spangled Banner
                  or the American Flag again.
America became Ecotopia and Ecotopia’s flag was the Wilderness
                  and Ecotopia’s National Anthem is the wind.
America loved itself so much
                  it became Ecotopia
                                    after all.
Now we play no National Anthem
And need no Symphony or Amphitheater
                  or downtown or Milwaukee
As we sit and listen to crickets
                  and watch fireflies as it gets dark
                                    in hot July along the pure freshwater shores
                  of Great Lake Michigan.