Friday, June 05, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 51

Jean Flanagan

Jean Flanagan is the author of Ibbetson Street (Garden Street Press) and Black Lightning (Cedar Hill Books).  Her work has appeared in numerous publications.  She has a new manuscript called “A Hard Winter for Living.”  Flanagan teaches in an alternative sentencing program called “Changing Lives Through Literature and is one of the founders of the Arlington Center for the Arts. 


Peonies used to grow in our front yard
bush after bush of glorious pink
in front of our yellow and green house
on Memorial Day. The first spring flowers filled
 with black beetles hidden behind the tight petals.

Today on Memorial Day I put peonies in a vase
on my glass living room table.  The buds are ready to open.
Across the way, on a nearby roof, neighbors are celebrating.
I am thinking about Arlington National Cemetery
 and four family members buried there.

In my mind I hear Taps being blown on a bugle.
A soldier at the top of the hill as the sun sets.
Remember shaking with grief
as a soldier handed a triangle flag to my nephew
and said, “Your country thanks you for your service.”

The pink peonies
the yellow and green house.
The love of family and yet we have come to this
on this cold Memorial Day during the pandemic
not knowing what is to become of us.


  1. Beautiful and descriptive language, I especially love the focus on both the flowers and the poet's emotions.

  2. I love Flanagan’s poetry and this is a beautiful elegiac poem!