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A Poem to Honor Our Veterans, by Joseph Bathanti

American FlagYesterday was the legal public holiday of Veterans Day, and most federal employees will have today off to honor America’s military veterans, an “unbroken chain of men and women who have served our country with honor and distinction.”

When Joseph Bathanti was named North Carolina’s Poet Laureate in  August of this year, he announced plans to work with veterans to share their stories of military service—including combat zones—through poetry. To celebrate Veterans Day, Bathanti has written a poem for veterans, families of veterans, and for all of us who honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice.

Saint Francis’s Satyr Butterfly

All creatures have the same source as we have.
—Saint Francis of Assisi

A reclusive small brown butterfly,
white and yellow stigmatic suns

deployed along its wing ridges,
Saint Francis’s Satyr christened

after the 12th century Italian soldier
and POW turned mystic

secretes itself, miraculously,
in 10 by 10 kilometers

of the 251 square mile brash
of Fort Braggexact coordinates classified

beyond whichwe know this much
it has gone undetected. Shy, endangered,

preferring anonymity, it hides
in high artillery impact domains

life often chooses death
the fires triggered by bombardment.

It wears Marsh camouflage,
resembles in its favored habitat

blasted sedge and beaver ruins
a tiny standard issue

Advanced Combat Helmet.
Parsed from the chrysalis,

rent too soon from its dream of living,
the satyr blazes in desperate glory

but three or four days,
in its imaginal stage,

then tenders its life in writ sacrifice.
Its gorgeous numbers dwindle.

The caterpillar has never been seen.
We accept, on faith, metamorphosis.

Note: Saint Francis’s Satyr, a rare, endangered butterfly, exists exclusively in a 10×10 kilometer, high artillery impact zone within the confines of Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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