"Oh, say can you see the holster on me?
I have fed it my vote and the lives of my children."
Too dark. An anthem's got to be, well, not peppy, but you should never use words like "entrails."
In a nation that's abandoned nearly every one of its original promises, there remains the gun, the flag, the anthem, hatred of black people, worship of anything in a uniform and — always — the more ignorant aspects of tent-meeting Christianity.
"And the cops all turned tail like their pistols had failed.
Heroes in full reverse. Oh, there is nothing worse.
For our faith's been misplaced, in God's gun-slinging grace."
Naah. An anthem is not supposed to point out the shortcomings of the police. They put their lives on the line every day, ya know. The cops have a damn strong union, too, though you're a communist if you want a union.
"So we'll stock Walmart's shelves like nonunionized elves.
And the presents we stock go to somebody else."
The anthem (and you damn well better stand) is easy to swallow in all its slightly gory wordiness because the siege of Fort McHenry happened in 1812, or 1612, back when there were still dinosaurs in America (just ask a Tennessee legislator).
And if you're listening to the anthem as sung by State Trooper Patrick O'Whiteguy, in the moments before your team covers or doesn't cover the spread, you know damn well why nobody ever sings the whole song.
"The gunfire roars, and the senators want more/
Of that gleaming NRA cash that makes them all ..."
Forget it. You can't compare the Congress to a house of prostitution. Anyway, you'll never have the cash to find out what pleasures lurk in that brothel. Guys like you, veterans of our ever-victorious military, if you want some retail love, you're gonna have to settle for the kind sold by brown-toothed meth addicts.
"Oh, she's not very pretty, but she only wants 30.
She'll be there through the night cuz she's hooked on the pipe."
Drugs? In an anthem? Why not? No anthem has ever before attempted the truth. The old Soviet Union had an anthem that sounded like the beautiful yet slightly muscular kiss of freedom's red mouth. The old Soviet Union was a meat locker full of corpses on hooks, but the anthem could make you cry for the workers-and-peasants paradise.
"And our leader, he'll run, toward the sound of the gun.
Though he was unarmed, his bone spurs were flashing."
That's the stuff right there, the fight against impossible odds, the weary but undefeated troops peering over the border wall as the dawn wind ruffles their orange comb-overs. Is the flag still flying?
"Thanks to Big Pharma's shills we're all drowsy with pills,/
From Maine's rockbound coasts to Kentucky's green hills."
Geography goes well in an anthem, which is why people are always suggesting "America The Beautiful" should be the national anthem. It's got "amber waves of grain" and "purple mountains" in the lyrics, so, no matter what part of Colorado you're from, you can relate.
And the rousing finish? An anthem needs a rousing finish.
"Oh, thus be it ever, when gun owners shall stand/
Between their AR-15s and sane legislation.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave/
O'er the land of the free and the dead children's graves."
And what do you do when the quavering last note dies away in the stillness?
You do what a Republican legislator does when the National Rifle Association hands him a bag of money.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, go to www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin'" is a collection of his Pulitzer Prize-nominated columns from before, during and after the latest presidential election. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Kindle, Nook and GooglePlay.