And vibrant

Pulsating color a mirror


Reflecting the struggle of service

Service to nation and principle

Service to community and country


Layers of paint

Explode like wildfire

Live vivacious shrapnel

Beautiful and resonant



Of red, white, and blue

Explosions of color like karmic chemistry


The sacred fraternity of service

Tortured struggles through trauma

Be that physical or psychic


As a society

We build armies of steel and titanium

Armies of women and men

Armies that subordinate self

To duty and collective purpose’


Layers of paint again

Expressing deep pain—but also pride

Seeking balance

Giving voice to desire for healing


Acrylic, latex, and oil

Interwoven in a web of solidarity


A question is posed

Do our soldiers die for freedom and security?

Or for empire and corporate avarice?

Or some tangled concatenation of all of these?


Layers of paint

Red, white, and blue

Layers of meaning

Seeking a narrative

A prescient interpretation

A totalizing shockwave of analysis


We crave liberation

In a manifold explosion of color


A celebration of solidarity and service

A celebration that conjures the joy of healing

This poem is inspired by Christopher G. Kempton: both his brilliant visual art and his visceral life story.



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