THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER
The year he entered junior high,
his parents bought him a clarinet.
He didn’t like its squeakiness, the little notes
running up and down the scale,
felt resentment, though he'd been given
a Buffet, the best.
He joined summer band that year,
discovered John Philip Sousa
and nights to glory in —
when families spread their blankets
on the high school lawn,
dusk drifting into darkness
to the two-four pulse of the drums,
chorus of horns and clarinet riffs.
He was brother to the band men
who played “The Stars & Stripe Forever”
on Hammondsport green, while crowds gathered
to celebrate Glen Curtis’ June Bug flight.
An upbeat America —
marines marching on Manila,
Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill —
when everything was possible.
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