Handing of the Flag

Poem by Jean HowardSummer/Fall 2016



(Services of William Reese)


At the grave site,

as each star is swallowed

by a fold

or white-glove tuck,

the flag moves,

slowly, precisely,

each tug calculated

and rehearsed.


The gatherers are silent,

hearing each move,

though inaudible.

The only sound lifting

above us is a baby

whose lips begin suckling

in his mother’s arms.


The sound, so visceral,

so intense, its primal longing 

moving him closer

to his mother’s breast,

is drifting upward

above the flag

as it slowly, steadily,

crawls toward its end.


The crisp finality

of its pointed blue

floats within

the widow’s arms

as the mother steps away,

the infant clamping beneath

her shawl onto the nearest



A participant in the original development of the internationally acclaimed Poetry Slam, Jean Howard’s poetry has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Revolution of The Spoken Word, The Chicago Tribune, as well as over 120 literary publication, with her book of poetry, Dancing In Your Mother’s Skin, being awarded two grants for publication.

Organizer of the annual National Poetry Video Festival for eight years, she has performed in hundreds of venues nationally, from biker bars to contemporary art museums, with her own award-winning video poems airing on cable and public television and film festivals. www.jeanchoward.com

Original publication: This poem was originally published in Evening Street Press, Fall 2016 issue #15 www.eveningstreetpress.com

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