from a collection entitled Stirrup of the Sun & Moon

con: /kän/, verb: to persuade (someone) to do or believe something, typically by use of deception; noun: an instance of deceiving or tricking someone; prefix: used with certain words to convey a notion of with, together (e.g.: confederacy, converge, confluence, congregate, congregation, convene)

fuddy: /fə-dē'/ adjective: old-fashioned, conservative; dull (related to fuddy-duddy; British origin)

rut: /rət/ noun: a long deep track made by the repeated passage of wheels; a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change; an annual period of sexual activity in deer and some other mammals, during which males fight each other for access to females.

I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war,

but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to

obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit

to oblivion the feelings it engendered.

from Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of General Robert E. Lee (1874)

Face it.
It's the 21st-century dammit…

and if you're still Confederate-minded
then you’re really like a wounded horse 
dragging a bloody broken stump behind ya.

And if you're Confederate-minded
then you're hobbled, 
stuck in the past,
crippled by a mythology of what happened around here.
An old dog
with a trap closed-down 
over your skull, your snout, your eyes. 
Confederate-minded = Confederate-blinded.

And if you're Confederate-blinded
then without even really knowing how or why
the evolution of your heart and mind 
is hindered, frozen, stuck.

You're stuck. You’re stuck.
You're stuck in a con-fuddy-rut.
A con-fuddy-rut. 

You're stuck.
You're stuck in a con-fuddy-rut.
A con-fuddy-rut.

While the rest of us are moving forward,
you're stuck in a con-fuddy-rut.

While the rest of us move forward,
— descendants of scalawags
— descendants of slaves in the field
— descendants of Sons of the Confederacy 
who actually heeded General Lee;
who stowed away the marks of strife
and moved into a new era 
where everyone leaves everyone be…
you're stuck.
You're stuck in a con-fuddy-rut.

And the real problem with that
is you've gone and put 
your own self in chains

and the rest of us, 
free as can be,
are moving forward
into a brighter future, ya see…

despite what paltry excuse you use

to keep an echo

of the old flag

flying over the rest of us.

As a native Mississippian, naturally I grew up around the Confederate flag…and under the current state flag.

It would be later on in years when I would see how the symbol had become weaponized. It was then, looking through old museum photographs, that I put 2 and 2 together and realized the emblem had experienced a kind of symbolic second-coming. It was used in the 40s, 50s, and 60s as a rallying symbol of white supremacy, resistance to desegregation, and violence toward blacks seeking equal treatment under the law.

And, to the present-day, an echo of that same symbol is held over us on the state flag as a corner saltire reminder (a “salt-teared reminder”?) of a brutal and bloody past, and — let’s not pretend — an ongoing psychological message of coercion. That’s what symbols do. That’s what that symbol meant during the Civil Rights era. That’s what that symbol meant when Dylann Roof invoked its weaponized form again and then gunned down nine innocent people in their South Carolina house of worship.

Defenders of the Confederate flag, and apologists for keeping the Confederate saltire on the Mississippi state flag, are quick to suggest that it is merely a symbol of “Southern pride” or “heritage.” As politely as I can put it: Bullshit. The first two lines of the Mississippi Declaration of Secession make the point painfully clear what this consciousness was: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” And, summarily, poor whites went to war and died by the thousands to help maintain a lifestyle of decadence for rich, fat-cat plantation owners, while their own wives and children were assaulted and robbed by Confederate banditry at home.

Civil War aside, defending the ongoing appearance of the salt-teared saltire on the Mississippi state flag omits the overwhelming historical evidence of the emblem being hoisted again and again in the late 1900s and utilized as a rallying banner of hate, coercion, domestic terrorism, and black voter suppression.

As a native Mississippian, as a descendant of both Confederate officers and Union-loyal emancipationists…as a descendant of a Reconstruction-era law enforcement officer who was violently maimed by Confederate-sympathizers…as a descendant of United Methodist ministers…my own contemporary view is simple. It is time for a new state flag.

Symbols hold power. We live under such symbols and living under such symbols has implications. It sets both a tone for those living under them and sends a message to those beyond our borders of the true nature and consciousness of our dwelling place.

The Confederate flag, and the current Mississippi state flag that maintains an echo of the former, should be placed in a museum and accompanied with the proper historical context in the form of well-rounded storytelling. However, neither should be hoisted as a banner in any manner above citizens of Mississippi’s present because of what these symbols have come to mean…because they’ve never represented us all.

To represent the bright future of Mississippi, and the full populace of our Mississippi citizenry, a new state flag, a new symbol representing unity (or, at the very least, harmony) should be raised in its stead.

The frontrunner replacement under consideration is the Stennis Flag. Created by accomplished artist Laurin Stennis, granddaughter of late Senator John C. Stennis (for whom the Stennis Space Center is named on the Mississippi Gulf Coast), the Stennis flag is one of history, hope, and hospitality. I am wholeheartedly for it. — Frank LaRue Owen, Mississippi poet


(c) 2018 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: Follow The Doe / Caleb R.K. Williams