Flag (haibun)

Let’s all go to the football and yell and roar, and cheer and cry, and feel alive — invigorated by our sense of belonging: our club, our district, our nation. Let’s all wave our flags and wear coloured beanies and feel superior and swagger.

Or if we lose, let’s weep into our beer. At least we weep together. If you’re going to feel such sorrow, it’s great to be part of a community, a club, a district, a nation. So let’s all go out and wave our flags and belt the shit out of anyone who disagrees.

We can even go to war to do it. Well, war isn’t what it used to be. These days the flag is on the wall in front of computers where soldiers get fat while remotely dropping bombs on real people in real time. ‘Swatting flies’, they call it. Oh, there’s another village gone. Ho-hum. Another day at the office.

But what does anyone on the ground, who escapes this slaughter, see? A flag, a flag to hate, a flag to stomp on, a flag to burn, a flag to send bodies home in.

Meanwhile the local rowdies reel home from the pub, singing their drunken hearts out.

remote hilltop
just wind and the fluttering
of prayer flags



Līgo Haībun Challenge 

17 thoughts on “Flag (haibun)

  1. “These days the flag is on the wall in front of computers where soldiers get fat while remotely dropping bombs on real people in real time. ‘Swatting flies’, they call it. Oh, there’s another village gone. Ho hum. Another day at the office.”

    Gods. This is grim. And yet somehow I feel relief in the honesty of your writing of it.

    The poem at the end make my heart ache in conjunction with this prose. Good work.

  2. I love the haiku at the end. It adds a spiritual dimension to the haibun – suddenly the excesses of our current realities are seen with the a greater perspective.

      1. 🙂 I was going to use the word rant but thought you might take offense. I agree with your sentiments though. There is altogether too much flag waving going these days.

  3. This is a form of writing, and haibun, that resonates particularly well with me, and I see it as a ‘proest haibun’ a genre in itself. I like the bitter tone, the fact, truth of it. The 3rd paragraph was just right – the first 2 led me right into it, third awful yob culture ‘we’ have in the West and GB, but then we got serious, and I like it very much. But it is so true, and the power a flag has over people is shocking.

    The droning, and remote-controlled bombing is unbelievable. A video game. And I know of situations where they have had time to turn the drone away but did not do so when a child was spotted walking in a doorway about to be hit, with an order to call the child a ”dog” in the official report.

    That we do it while claiming moral and democratic ‘superiority’, well, words fail me.

  4. Brilliantly written – and so heartbreaking. It terrifies me that we’ve made war a video “game” – across the world on a screen – separating ourselves from the reality of the suffering.

    The final haiku was both a relief and an extra heartache.

    So powerful.

    1. Thanks Jen. It is just too scary to think about. war has been impersonal ever since the fighters could no longer see the whites of their enemies’ eyes. Any room for compassion disappears with distance.

  5. Excellent.. swatting flies while getting fat… what an image.. unfortunately accurate. If all the people sitting in front of their televisions watching the war footage and video games got out there, traveled to a far off land, see how other cultures live and breathe, we’d be much less inclined to cheer for the bombs or stomp on their flags.

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