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Key Number 63/Stars and Bars

The grounds man walked up to the gate
And pulled out his Yale key numbered 63:
This day had been long in coming;
The end of a hard era of taut history.

A lost soul in Charleston
Killed nine in Mother Emanuel.
Whither go our children:
Do you seek Heaven or Hell?

The gate swung open and let in the man
Who reached up for the halyard,
And down furled came the Stars and Bars—
A breeze ripening out of the Southward.

94 thousand died under that proud banner
For their State, their God and sweet country fair—
But fairly beaten, fairly lost
With blasted angels, a long gray line climbed that tall stair.

A lost soul in Charleston
Killed nine in Mother Emanuel.
Whither go our children:
Do they seek Heaven or Hell?

The legislature cast their ballots
On the sure fait accompli
As would’ve been that final warrant
Signed by Abe Lincoln or by Marse Lee

The grounds man folded the crimson rag
Headed for a place of Honoured History;
Now wrongly tainted by hate and sorrow,
The cure a socio-psychological mystery.

A lost soul in Charleston
Killed nine in Mother Emanuel.
Whither go our children:
Do we teach Heaven or Hell?

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A Better Way Out

I want to write something sweet,
I want to write tumbly around fun,
Regale through a truism,
And flourish the end in a pun.
But far I’m too angry
And hurt down to my core:
Kayla Jean Mueller is dead—
How can we bear any more?
ISIL rages in the Levant,
Slums flourish in Mumbai,
All that wasted energy,
And the Rage burning through the why:
“Love thy neighbor.”
“You don’t know my pain.”

The loss, the hurt, the Empty:
Unfulfilled, again and again and again.
Kayla Jean had a slant,
A take on a better way out,
But her candle has found the wind;
And we, now diminished and in doubt,
Try to tamp down lusting revenge;
Praying to grasp a higher view:
What did Kayla know?
What are we going to do?