Flag of Hate

This entry is part 6 of 40 in the series Pandemic Year


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My brother comes back from a walk to report that someone has nailed a confederate flag to a tree at the end of the mountain. This far north of Dixie, that’s an unmistakable sign of hard-core racism. Our neighbors in the hollow have biracial grandchildren; perhaps it was aimed at them? Who knows. Hatred is a disease that can only be cured by love, but its carriers must be isolated and the symbols it infects destroyed.

flag of hate
hissing as
it burns

Fire breaks the hydrocarbon chains in polyester with a thousand fingers at once. We gaze at the flag’s charred outline on the road as if it were a map to some disaster area: a nuclear test site, a strip mine, the tar sands of Alberta.

fake stars
learning what it means
to shine


Process notes

My sister-in-law Paola was kind enough to film this for me. I had been playing with the text ever since Mark first reported his discovery, but burning the thing really helped me see that I had to lose all digressions and just focus in on the flag and our disposal of it. I had originally gone off on a tangent about a dream I’d had, brought in an incursion onto our property by off-road vehicles, and wandered off into a discussion of racism that was much too didactic for a haibun, where even the prose is supposed to be lyrical. I’m finding the one-minute approximate limit I’ve set myself for these videos immensely useful.

The Creative Commons-licensed music was surprisingly easy to find on Soundcloud. Through a complex procedure I don’t quite understand, the composer turns passages of James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake into music. There I was looking for an off-kilter version of “Dixie” and I found something brilliant.

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