dVerse Quadrille #135: Shake that Poem Groove Thang


Top Guns Care

An odd pair were we.
Everyone’s friend, as
SpineRipper called me
(to rib my neutrality),
knowing I was his.

Navy fighter pilots,
tailhookers all.
JW, warrior to the core.
Taught me to call the ball
when in the groove.
We cried at kiss off.

Look both ways except on short final to your carrier.
Fly the ball, not the deck, and mind the gaps.
Aviators die here.

Gloss: Captain John (SpineRipper) Waples (USN) was my boss and friend (sort of). He was also one of the greats of Naval Aviation with 1,300+ aircraft carrier landings, 400 at night (a rumored record). He flew many combat missions. He was the original shock and awe combat leader.

I met him after we had both hung up our flight suits, although John still owned and  flew his own biplane (he called a kite). Wapes was an enigma to me. Blunt and easily angered (thus the call sign/nick name), yet amenable, and a man who seemed to care about people. We had little in common except for what seemed to be an honest mutual admiration that neither of us ever understood. I didn’t know until the end. I will never understand why. Call the ball, in the groove, and kiss-off are USN fighter pilot jargon.

46 thoughts on “dVerse Quadrille #135: Shake that Poem Groove Thang

  1. I have great admiration for you and all pilots who choose that profession. Amazing and dangerous, glad you survived👍🏻☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. this is definitely interesting – the jargon, the meanings of it, it’s all “code” isn’t it? which makes sense, speaking in brief because you have to make split second decisions, all that precision, skill, technique – and I think your poem is fascinating, because in some ways, it lends itself so well to this tight, precise form; 44 words isn’t necessarily a whole lot of space in which to maneuver, like I imagine it might be on a carrier’s flight deck – so I think your piece works well within this framing – and also reveals how sometimes “awkward” friendships are some of the most solid ones –

    lovely reading this and the additional information – and even though it’s your past, and I’m not American, I’ll genuinely offer: Thank you for your service.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. ah, you’re welcome – and that’s the mystery about writing – sometimes the words and spaces, the in between, are filled with all that is left out by the one who is creating – and this is the magic.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoyed this glimpse into, and a bit of education on the jargon of Navy pilots. I can hardly think of much more exciting than that life. It seems you may have been an enigma to each other but somehow the admiration was there…that’s nice.

    Gayle ~

    Liked by 2 people

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