New state poet laureate pens poem for veterans

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When award-winning poet, Appalachian State University professor and advocate for literacy Joseph Bathanti was named North Carolina's poet laureate in October 2012, he announced plans to work with veterans to share their stories through poetry.

To celebrate Veterans Day, Bathanti has written a special poem for veterans, families of veterans and for everyone who honors America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

"North Carolina, arguably the heart of the U.S. military establishment, is overflowing with unforgettable stories of veterans and their families, and across the state there are various initiatives, as well as writers and countless others, dedicated to bringing these accounts to the surface," Bathanti said.

"As Poet Laureate, I find myself suddenly in a position to make something very meaningful happen in North Carolina by serving as a lightning rod to publicize these programs, create a consortium of thought and action among them, and help create a sustainable collaborative model for teaching writing workshops for vets that can be duplicated and delivered anywhere in the state."

Saint Francis's Satyr Butterfly

All creatures have the same source as we have.
Saint Francis of Assisi

A reclusive small brown butterfly,
white and yellow stigmatic suns

deployed along its wing ridges,
Saint Francis's Satyr - christened

after the 12th century Italian soldier
and POW turned mystic -

secretes itself, miraculously,
in 10 by 10 kilometers

of the 251 square mile brash
of Fort Bragg - exact coordinates classified -

beyond which - we know this much -
it has gone undetected. Shy, endangered,

preferring anonymity, it hides
in high artillery impact domains -

life often chooses death -
the fires triggered by bombardment.

It wears Marsh camouflage,
resembles in its favored habitat -

blasted sedge and beaver ruins -
a tiny standard issue

Advanced Combat Helmet.
Parsed from the chrysalis,

rent too soon from its dream of living,
the satyr blazes in desperate glory

but three or four days,
in its imaginal stage,

then tenders its life in writ sacrifice.
Its gorgeous numbers dwindle.

The caterpillar has never been seen.
We accept, on faith, metamorphosis.

Joseph Bathanti