Foreign Policy
by Daniel Priest


The reason I don't pledge life, spare change,
well wishes, firstborn children or my allegiance
to the flag that trembles in tonight's post-season wind,
stadium lit like a descending spaceship

is also the reason I don't sing along
when the band lurches through the school anthem.
I fold hands instead and do my best
to look respectful. Imagine how tuneless,

how distant the brass must sound drifting
across five lanes to the subsidized housing
down the road. God forgive the times
I've given myself to these noises. And forgive me now

for the sin I know is coming,
when one of our boys breaks through
the artillery of bodies and stretches out his long
American legs down the open backfield

and I jump up, hands flying to my mouth like trained birds
so I'm louder as I scream him towards the end zone,
that he'll be faster than the ones in unfamiliar colors,
more desperate for the win than they.






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