An odd pair were we. Everyone’s friend, as
SpineRipper called me
(to rib my neutrality),
knowing I was his.
Navy fighter pilots,
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.
Fist sized, emotionally uninvested, hearts
are busy little buggers. Mine’s bionic:
seven stents, a new bovine based aortic valve,
and a safety pacer to keep it pumping
1,680 gallons via 100K systole beats
every day. Deathrate’s down two thirds.
Tricky business, this staying alive.
Look both ways and exercise physically and mentally.
Mind the gaps and feel the beats.
Thanks to Merril (from New Jersey) for hosting this dVerse bar challenge: Prosery Monday: A Time, to which I am responding on Tuesday. Merril says to write prose of less then 145 words in response to this line from the poem “A Time” by Allison Adelle Hodge Coke.
“when it is over said and done
it was a time
and there was never enough of it.”
Genre: flash memoir
Word count: 143
Title: L’esprit de l’escalier
Last Fall, I wrote a poem about watching my father drink coffee and smoke when I was a young child. Our father-son relationship improved slightly later in life.
I’d received good reaction to the piece, so I considered its potential for submission. I requested further feedback from a critique group (mostly fiction writers). I was aware of the potential risks, but I wanted to know their thoughts.
One person asked, “I did not understand the last few lines where you said, ‘I figured it out. He did too. In the end, it was just the end.’ Can you explain what you meant?”
Stumped for a good answer, I copped-out with, “He died”—a true but poor response on my part.
Now I could simply say, “When it is over, said, and done, it was a time. And there was never enough of it.”
Look both ways for answers.
Mind the gaps in the poetry of others,
it’s where we may find answers.
Today’s dVerse Poet’s Pub prompt for poetics is Looking out the window, provided by Peter Frankis. While the challenge was to take a picture, post it, and write about it. I adjusted time a bit. I used a picture I searched for and found that my wife took of me through a window, 48 years ago. This idea came to me quickly and I could not let it go.
The Window Behind Me
A window from the parlor to the covered front porch
of my parents’ home, a memory of chewing paint off the sill,
of watching adults sit and talk and wave as neighbors walked by.
For eighteen years, my view of the world outside
where wind blew, rain fell, thunder clapped, people sang,
cars passed and honked. Life beckoned me to the stage,
through that window.
What was I thinking 48 years ago? My young wife and new son
in the window behind me. Our future? Was I talking or listening to
a passerby? Was I thinking of losing that hair as it turned gray?
Four-years military—done! College degree, done! Responsibility
branded me an armed man. Was I up to it? Did I have life,
or had it taken me?
Would the photographer still be my wife after 54 years? Would I have two
more children and would they be in their forties with more kids?
Would I build two careers and retire? Would I write poetry?
I had time. I knew I would live forever. I did not even know what I didn’t know.
Now, I know. Some I wish I didn’t discover. A window from the past
reflecting the future. The present me, right here, right now, today.
I want to say, relax, you’ll be fine.
Look both ways through every window.
Mind the gaps and cracks.
The dVerse quadrille is a 44-word poem, excluding any title, using some form of the prompting word: Bramble. Click here for link to the party at the pub.
Small troops of proud pickers pounce
and probe with plastic cups and buckets seeking
drupelets of prey, searching brambles
to score secret sweet’n sour ingredients
plucked from aggressive blackberry tangles.
Juice-stained fingers hunt hearts of cobblers,
tarts, buckles, crisps, and jams.
Perchance, some wine?
Look both ways even when picking berries.
Mind the gaps,
we share all of this with more natural consumers.