Just before they stormed the barricades,
the Proud Boys gathered near the Peace Memorial,
at the foot of Capitol Hill,
where fifty years earlier
my friends and I planted flags
protesting the Vietnam War.
“A mishmash monument,” one scholar’s called it,
the muse of History on top,
forever reading the words,
“they died that their country might live,”
from the book she holds in her left hand,
while Grief hangs on her left shoulder,
weeping, and Victory gloats beneath them,
baby Mars and Neptune,
like cherubim in a sandbox,
playing with their sword and trident,
at Victory’s feet.
Bare-breasted, she stands alone
on the other side of the monument.
The beefy men in MAGA hats,
waving “Stop the Steal” banners,
bellowed like wild beasts
at the very place, a few days later,
photographs of Brian Sicknick,
the Capitol cop killed in the mob attack,
appeared next to flowers and American flags.
Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore. Two full-length collections were published in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books. A poetry chapbook, Mortal Coil, was published earlier this year by Clare Songbirds Publishing.