Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Jason Baldinger: Copper Heads

eating fried plantains
cold in a morning motel
in a town burned 
by the confederacy 

if I drive east there's 
fifty-one thousand skeletons 
resting in pieces underground 

if I follow antietam creek south
I'll find another twenty thousand 

if I breathe the air without mask
I may join the five hundred thousand
a number growing by the day 

still, as I follow these roads
I find symbols of a fallen 
illegitimate government
hanging everywhere 

sometimes next to the flag
of the country it tried to secede
from, as if it's possible 
to carry two divergent systems
to the well of democracy 

sometime it flies alone
or with colonial flag pairing
don't tread on me
as if two widely different
revolutions meant the same thing 

in one case it was inside
an american flag
like a superman s 
like a hidden heartbeat 
and maybe that is most true 

this is pennsylvania 
there were no copperheads here
until now

america your wars are endless 
but none is longer than the one
you've had with yourself
still there is no shining city
your ideals are empty 
all epaulets and piping 

these future sons and daughters 
of the confederacy they are playing
victims in a system failed 

they side with those that exploit 
in an economic system
built to exploit 

although I'm a student of history
I've lost my taste for war
civil or otherwise

there is no glory in dying
there is less in exploitation
I don't know how to tell that
to the ghosts that wade 
in the blood rivulets
that once rushed to creeks 

johnny reb 
the cause is lost
my eyes are tired
tired of seeing the glory
of the coming of the lord 

there is still no vintage 
in grapes, in wrath
just a terrible swift sword 
this truth is stumbling
there is no marching on


Copyright 2021 Jason Baldinger

Jason Baldinger is from Pittsburgh and misses roaming the country writing poems. His newest book is A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press). His work has been published widely across print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lp’s by The Gotobeds and Theremonster.

23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. (Antietam Battle Field; National Park Service)

2 comments on “Jason Baldinger: Copper Heads

  1. melpacker
    May 13, 2021

    Jason hits it, as usual. Great poem, great words of our times..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JASON IRWIN
    May 13, 2021

    Excellent poem, Mr. Baldinger!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2021 by in Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , , , , .

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