Flags, Barbecues and Fireworks

 Flags, Barbecues and Fireworks

He strode
into America’s
Birthday Party

with an air
of power
and privilege

a nobleman
who had learned

a thing or two
about governing,

a thing or two
about the strengths

and weaknesses
of Republics.

He looked up—

at America’s
Stars and Stripes,

a more sophisticated,
but equally treasured
and defended

symbol for
a democratic state

as the vexillum
his armies
had used.

He smelled
the meat

the intoxicating

and again saw
the happy
smiling faces

of a nation’s
grateful citizenry.

Like victorious
feasts on great

in days of old
long since

after glorious battles
had been waged,
fought and won.

He cringed a bit
when he heard
the strange sounds

of fireworks
exploding overhead,

fearing that his legions

might again
be under attack.

He had already
seen and knew
too much

about destruction
and death—

about the destruction
and death
of Republics.

Upon learning
it was America’s 243’rd,

He paused
for a moment,
in earnest,

and then declared:

"She will meet
the same fate
as my own,

if her leaders
are not wise
and not true.

like their leaders,
are fragile,

and do not
last forever.

They’ve flown
and are fleeting.”


And, with that,
He was gone.

Gil Hoy

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, The Potomac, The New Verse News, The Penmen Review and elsewhere.


  1. Haunting, but powerful. There's a sad truth to it too. No powers on this earth are everlasting or without flaw. You've used the traditional practices of celebration to illustrate this in an amazing way.

  2. Thank you Renee. I'm happy you enjoyed the poem.

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