by Eric Awesud Ble

Adolfo Martinez, a man who hails from Ames, Iowa,
was sentenced sixteen jailed-years for the burning of a flag.
The thirty-year-old man purloined a raindow-coloured flag
that hung upon a church, and lit that rag, that cloth on fire.
So obviously a thoughtcrime, he had to pay the price,
unlike so many burning US flags protesting ICE,
unlike Antifa members burning flags all of the time,
as well as once a Secret Service agent—no jail time.
Good God, I feel I’m falling back, back in the darC old War.
How strange it is to feel one’s back, back in US…SR.



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17 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    Bruce, As a social comment I commend you for this post. As a poem, however, I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. There appears to be a half-hearted attempt to approximate meter and somewhat less of an attempt to approximate rhyme. For me, the lack of form made this far less effective than if you had taken the time to package it properly.

  2. Monty

    Have you done this on purpose, Bruce? Did you intentionally write a non-poem for your own amusement? Or maybe to give others a chuckle? If so, I admire your sense of adventure.

  3. Joe Tessitore

    I looked up Mr. Martinez and read that there was more to it than “the burning of a flag.”
    His flag-burning earned him a felony-arson conviction, which is his third felony conviction.
    As a repeat offender, Iowa state sentencing guidelines allowed the judge to triple his sentence for this current offense.

  4. David Paul Behrens

    Flag burning, in itself, should not be thought of as a crime, as long as it is done safely. If it does not cause a danger to anyone, it should be considered free speech, no matter which flag is involved. Of course, if the flag was hanging on a church, it might be considered theft or vandalism.

  5. Eric Awesud Ble

    A Vile Action: the Burning of a Flag of Pride
    by Eric Awesud Ble
    “It was an honor to do that. It was a blessing from the Lord.”
    —Adolpho Martinez

    The action was improper. It was packaged slovenly.
    How dare one say such things and strike out so unlovingly.
    Amusement, or a chuckle? some adventure thrown in too?
    Perhaps the burning of a flag is something not to do.
    O, no, it’s worse than that, you see. It was a felony.
    Martinez was a ruthless dude destroying property.
    As a repeat offender—three-time felon—off to jail.
    The judge could triple sentencing for hate beyond the pale.
    No sanctuary for this fellow. Justice reigns supreme.
    This was an act of desecration. Hang him from a beam.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Bruce, Good to see that rhyme and rhythm are back in your vocabulary again!

      I suppose that at one level, the take-away is this: If you are irrationally angry and hateful towards something to the degree that you feel compelled to burn a flag that represents what you hate, then burn your own flag. Burning someone else’s flag (ie. property) can be charged as arson, which is a felony offense. As a bonus, directing your hate (and arson) against a “protected” group can double the sentence. As far as this particular case is concerned I have no comment except to say that I thought the “three strikes and you’re out” laws were declared unconstitutional by federal courts a long time ago?

      • Christina

        Mr. Ble, happy New Year to you and all.
        Please don’t misunderstand me. It was not the arsonist who desecrated the church, but whoever placed a flag celebrating the whole homosexual agenda upon a church. That the burning of such a symbol has almost universally and legally come to be regarded as an act of ‘hate’ reveals how easily, swiftly and completely a vociferous and well-funded minority can manipulate public opinion.
        If I understood your poem correctly, to express sympathy with this particular flag-burner, then I agree with those sentiments, but don’t think flag-burning will help modern society to get out of the slough it wallows in.

  6. Joe Tessitore

    For me, the take-away is how susceptible we all are, even the best and brightest among us, to being manipulated by “the news”.
    By leaving out a few very critical details, the story becomes “you can burn American flags with impunity, but steer clear of rainbow flags”.

  7. Joe Tessitore

    I have long believed that the powers that be want us at each other’s throats, and that the manipulation of the news is one of their most potent weapons.
    Can there be any doubt as we enter the New Year that they’ve achieved their goal?

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    It is interesting to compare this incident with the recent events in Rome, where two brave Austrian Catholics entered a major church, seized several degrading and desecrating idols of the earth-goddess Pachamama, and flung them unceremoniously into the Tiber. They did this both as a protest against Bergoglian apostasy, and as an attempt to cleanse God’s house of jungle filth.

    • Joe Tessitore

      Your reaction to Pope Francis is powerful. Perhaps you could channel it into a poem:

      The shepherd of a divided flock
      That some revere and others mock.
      Inspiring hope, provoking rage,
      Symbolic of a fractured age.

      Just a thought.
      I believe yours would be well worth the effort. I know it would be well worth reading.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        OK, I’ll submit one to Mr. Mantyk next month.

  9. Eric Awesud Ble

    1. To begin with, I don’t claim much for “The Burning of a Flag”. Of the over 500 poems I wrote in 2019, it is nowhere near the top. To a certain degree it was bland, for it was written in a semi-rhymed balland verse, unrhymed iambic heptameters. Like the Elizabethans, I too am striving for a malleable adaptable line, like blank verse.

    2. But also as an American, having gone through Modernist and Postmodernist poetry, not only do I write free verse and unrhymed verse, I am not averse to crashing the two togather [sic]. If nothing else, the Realists, like Whitman, and the Modernists, like Pound and Eliot, showed us the possibilities of English poetic power, even if on many levels they were unsuccessful.

    3. Of course, Mr. Tweedie would prefer the second poem, because, like many, I suppose, he prefers smoother verse; I cannot say I do not do so myself. But I actually like that awkwardness as well, that Donne presented and others, like Milton, perfected. That jarring, those flats and sharps suggest additional meaning. But I would also note, the variations of pronunciation that both Mr. Tweedie and Mr. Salemi discussed on an earlier strand. I take words, like “hails” or “jailed”, and give them two syllables, or one, depending on the case at hand. In a recent, better poem, “America 2019”, Ms. Cook noted “sealed”, which I also took as two syllables.

    4. So what to make of “The Burning of a Flag”? Not much. Written by my Orwellian charichord (Eric Awesud Ble, which I pronounce Bleh) I naturally use the term thoughtcrime to suggest jurisprudent insipidity; the central theme is unequal justice (sixteen years for burning a flag; no time for burning a man); the final couplet echoes Wordsworth and the Beatles. The Beatles’ allusion did not really work, because a dactylic phrase, like “back in the U-S-S-R” doesn’t neatly dovetail into an iambic meter. But then again I rarely allow the meter to have power over the ideas.

    5. One of the important functions of poetry is its memorializing; and I thought, in my rather hurried way, that Mr. Martinez deserved remembering (even better than I have done). As Mr. Tessitore has pointed out there is so much beneath the surface of this story, many things I omitted and that Mr. Tessitore omits as well; but I have to admit that I am not that interested in this example of justice gone awry in the duration of the prison time; so it is limited to a tennos.

    6. The second poem came about in connection with the comments of Mr. Tweedie, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Tessitore, Mr. Behrens, and Ms. Lang. I simply used their words and shuffled them in to ideas surrounding Mr. Martinez. It is at this point that Mr. Phillips is closest to the mark, when he says, “Did you intentionally write a non-poem?…If so I admire your sense of adventure.”

    • Monty

      My comment couldn’t possibly have helped to influence your decision to write the second piece, ‘coz I never once referred to the subject-matter of the first piece. I couldn’t possibly.

      It’s said that there are 7-odd billion humans on this planet; d’you think I care if ANY one human out of 7 billion.. from ANY country.. burns ANY flag.. ANYWHERE on the planet? Such inanities are never allowed to enter my psyche, Bruce; hence you won’t find anyone less aware than me of all that type of rubbish . . I’m far to occupied with real life!

      My comment was made only to convey my assumption that you must’ve wrote the first piece with the sole intention of rendering a badly-written non-poem. . . just for a laugh, maybe; or to see what sort of reaction it might provoke. I now realise that it was a genuine attempt at a poem; but how was I supposed to know that if.. a/ I had no knowledge of the subject.. b/ Practically every line contained what appeared to be intentional errors:

      L1 and L3.. You already told us in L1 that he’s a ‘man’; you didn’t need to tell us again in L3.

      L2.. It should be “sentenced TO sixteen..” . . and tell me: who says, or ever has said, “jailed-years”? Anyone?

      L2 and L3.. “flag/flag?

      L3.. “raindow”

      L4.. “lit that rag, that cloth on fire” . . can diction get any worse than that?

      L5.. Missing a hyphen in “thought-crime”.

      L7.. The word “of” is redundant; unnecessarily inserted just to fit the meter.

      L7 and L8.. time/time?

      L9.. I saw what you were trying to do.. amalgamating “dark” into “Cold War”, but come on, Bruce: can’t you see how ugly “darC” looks on the page. Where’s your respect for the written-word?

      L10.. US…SR, why? Would you write US…A?

      See? ‘Twas all too much for me . . that’s why I thought you were just jesting.

  10. Eric Awesud Ble

    1. Though some have taken umbrage at his comments, like Mr. Sale and Salemi, and though he nearly always takes my poetry to task, I appreciate Mr. Phillips’ responses. When he reads my poetry, I’m always interested to see what he most dislikes.

    2. Even though he is sure his comment couldn’t have influenced my poem, I would have him look at L3, and then note the nearly invisible metaphor I used, which is why I say specifically Mr. Phillips was “closest to the mark” when he said, “Did you intentionally write a non-poem.”

    3. O, I believe Mr. Martinez is definitely “occupied with real life”.

    4. You are right about the “intentional” errors.

    5. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first to use the “kenning” jailed-years in a poem. I do like to do things that have never been done before…”darC old War”.

    6. L2 and L3, “flag/flag” is intentional; and what will offend many (if not most) readers @ SCP is that the first “flag” slant-rhymes with “Iowa”, and the second slant-rhymes with “fire”, and rhymes with “rag” in the following line. It is a stylistic device I have used ever since my studies of Dickinson, et. al. One of my wildest ideas, that perhaps only I could ever take seriously, is my occasional belief that all words rhyme with each other.

    7. You did catch one typo: “raindow”, and I appreciate that, so I can fix it for my poems of 2019. I won’t go into my theory of errors (typos, etc.) here on this strand.

    8. I can easily see the diction of L4 offending readers. I do like the monosyllabic phrase, however; it is a recent voice and verbal structure I had not known before.

    9. I do not want a hyphen in thoughtcrime; it is pure Orwellian.

    10. In L7 the word “of” fits the meter. True.

    11. “Time/time” echoes “flag/flag” rhetorically. It is a purposeful repetition. As I mentioned to Mr. Phillips in a previous strand, the best of American poets have used the device, like Dickinson, as well as others, like Robinson and Frost. In England, both Shakespeare and Blake have used it to some purpose.

    12. As Mr. Phillips has noted in an earlier strand, he does not like playing with “his” language; and he is averse to writers, like Dickinson and Cummings, who are among my favourites “of” American poets.

    13. Why would the Beatles sing “Back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR”? I would suggest a “typical” English equivalence.

  11. Gregory Spicer

    It’s tough to give a damn about anybody’s idiotic flag when one realizes that even skinheads and meth dealing gangsters have them for their groups as well. Monty is so right to put real life first.

    Never the less the poem demonstrates linguistic cleverness pressed into a shape admirably close to a traditional sonnet. How could I not like that?

    I also like the detached perspective that calls into question the nature of judicial decisions on these matters.

    Am I wrong to think of that perspective as something akin to honorable Whiggery?


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