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from Phantom Hour

Hey Patriot, whither dost thou flag wander?
What thought could be made
complete while one is thinking?
An inkling day, a little answer
for any family’s tree.
I am aware of my many nationalities.
I know the moment the fog siren’s
haunted yowl reaches me that past
is past
that the soul is a cobbled thing.
I’ve read it as this or that, a green, a many-headed, a Godhead
a mythology for memory’s failures.
That’s all it is.
That’s all we have; our invented mythology
to live for and then naught.
Memory is not objective capability.
Our nation’s heroes in absentia
do not reside in portrait notes, are not our currency.
The leaves fall before branches unfurl.
The leaves are relative.
I forget.
These little flags sometimes break free.


The name is a noose.
The pills champion stasis.
The name is not the everything, but
the mysterious origin from which
we are hung.
We were taken to fight someone else’s war
we were conscripts by default; the hired auxiliary
grenadier at Lexington, later to settle in Lexington.
The name is a minister and a church; the church still
takes its congregation’s offering.
We are free to worship, or not worship
or simply remember that some of us have worshiped with zeal
and some of us not at all.
We are needed to recover from grandfather’s drink
from his father’s drink
so this measured solution running into the vein
as a form of drink.
The blood and the mysterious origin of vowels
we must carry as a correction to simple phonetics.
This unnatural enunciation: ë not ee.
The name is the connection but not the connectedness
is, in some small way, reverence.
This is a document intended to recover
to find its way home.


James Meetze is the author of Dayglo, winner of the 2010 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, published by Ahsahta Press, and I Have Designed This For You. He is editor, with Simon Pettet, of Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems by James Schuyler. A new chapbook, Dark Art I-XII, was published in December.