Independence Day Poetry

Benderaku (My Flag)

By Julian Matthews

Photo Courtesy: Julian Matthews
I wave my flag in thorny poems
Because I am too embarrassed to show you off in tatters
Stripped of your stripes
Your crescent eclipsed
Your pointy star blunted

My words are meant to prick
But they are not daggers nor keris
It's not good for my constitution to keep them inside
It's also bad for my heart

But if you look closely
You can see the patriotism in the whites of my eyes
You can feel the nationalism when they are bloodshot red
You can hear the anthem of my soul crying out when I am blue
You can sense the pride when I march in unison with my fellow yellows
(We link arms and sing the Negaraku because—hey—it's our country too)

My poems are my battle cry for you
My rhymes are there to straighten their crooked lines
My alliterations are a raucous rallying rap to get us back on track
My puns are the stitching of your sides
My consonance are the higher thread count of your fabric, the higher ground we tread to discount their dread
My imagery yearns to return your colours that have run, insane
My metaphors are my longing to unfurl you in the sun, again

My Malaysia is a million valiant vigorous voices wanting to raise a nation's flagging fading fervour
Don't need to stand in attention to appreciate it
Just pay attention
Because it's freely given
And if they still can't take the brave words of us poetic souls
Then they can just hang us from the nearest pole


Julian Matthews is a former journalist and trainer currently expressing himself in poetry, short fiction and essays. He is based in Malaysia



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