Below, one of Gwendolyn Brooks’ soldier sonnets from the sequence “Gay Chaps at the Bar”, published in her first collection, the amazing A Street in Bronzeville. Harper has recently reprinted her Selected Poems in a beautiful slim paperback. Please get it/read it already or I’ll keep posting stuff.
Gwendolyn Brooks: The Progress
And still we wear our uniforms, follow
The cracked cry of the bugles, comb and brush
Our pride and prejudice, doctor the sallow
Initial ardor, wish to keep it fresh.
Still we applaud the President’s voice and face.
Still we remark on patriotism, sing,
Salute the flag, thrill heavily, rejoice
For death of men who too saluted, sang.
But inward grows a soberness, an awe,
A fear, a deepening hollow through the cold.
For even if we come out standing up
How shall we smile, congratulate: and how
Settle in chairs? Listen, listen. The step
Of iron feet again. And again wild.