There Are Only Days

There Are Only Days
-Laurie Benson©2019

The day after
the day,
of the barbecue
and the parade,
the red solo cups
still on the lawn,
and the burnt remains
of firework cylinders,
and bent wires which
drew circles and letters in the
dark last night, as the
children wrote their
names with sparklers.

The day after
the day,
lawn chairs and empty cans,
charred places in the
cul-de-sac, and
salt water taffy
in the gutter,
left behind
because it isn't good
enough to be
picked up.

And the people, 
the day after.
Hangovers, and baggy eyelids,
sleep in late
knowing the mess
must be dealt with
or not.

Flags come down and
lawns get mowed.
Food thrown out,
and it is quiet.
Finally quiet.

Cowboy hats and 
dance costumes packed up,
and the rodeo circuit
corralled in, vendors
drive away and the
Tilt-O-Whirl folds up
and gets placed into
a truck.

The day after
the day,
it all gets put away.
Stadiums cleaned and
lost and found filled.
Cars get washed and
everyone sighs as they
realize, the amount of
money that went up in smoke.

What were we celebrating on
the day anyway?

At the clogging festival
a helicopter flew over.
Life Flight.
Someone hurt.
The Vietnam Vet in the row
ahead of me,
wouldn't, no couldn't take
his eyes off of it,
not even to watch the show.
Watching choppers is in
his DNA now.

Do the blasts of the 
past and the eight legal days
in July of popping, shrieking, 
shooting, scaring, all
through the night 'til
the dawns early light 
remind him of

I sat on my front porch
in the middle of
firework fire.  Friendly fire,
but it sounded like a
battlefield.  On the left,
on the right, and in
front.  In the spaces
between shots, a dog cried,
his howls coming up
like hallowed themes of
trenches and stenches and
never-ending screams.

And then it is quiet.
Finally quiet.

The day after
the day,
it's over for us until
next year when we gas up
our boats, buy cases of
beer and with
no fear go and celebrate.
To appreciate.

But there is no day after
the day
if you were there.
There are only days.