Painfully pulling out branches from an old, wiry tree. It stands immovable and motionless. What can I learn here? We gaze upwards and our eyes rest on a waving banner. Patriotic sentiments barely stir within me anymore. The pit of my stomach is moreso laced with dread, weighing the pros and cons of being dead or alive. Reckoning. Grappling. Pleading. Shedding the skin of naiveté. Snake-like knowledge slithers up and binds us in chokeholds. We turn blue and pass away to the old ways. Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and extra whipped cream. This is no ordinary supermarket-purchased pie. This is homemade from scratch, I mean scratch. With care, with love, with songs sung, and honest, decisive movements; Kneading that dough and needing that dough. Delayed reactionary. Delayed revolutionary. American militia trudging through swamps, the swamps of history books. Bibles are heavy and weigh so much. Finding our true path, our one true path to contribute to society always feels like fitting a square peg in a round hole of equal size. Fluttering flag, saluting the brave, saluting the scared and innocent, and frightened. Saluting those who brought it all back with them and don’t know how to let it go. How can we better let each other know that we are love and valued? Why do we draw lines and build up walls, tapdancing around eggshells and unmarked graves of past traumas we do our best to lay to rest? Somedays everyday is armageddon. It doesn’t matter if the sun is out and the sky is blue. Somedays a stapler is just so loud and familiar. Folding flags in the traditional military triangular formation. Soldiers stand at attention. Marvelous parades tearing up the road. I don’t know what it all means anymore. I don’t know what it means to not be constantly distracted anymore. Putting out thought-bubbles like little anchors and fishing lines. Seeing what bites and what sinks the ship, holds the ship in place rather. It’s easy to get seasick. Too easy to look the other way. Complacency is a quiet, pervasive devil. We put so much faith into a symbol that’s supposed to identify our bloodlines. But I don’t know how I feel anymore about it. I have taken too long to say my name. I stand here spiritually hungover.