NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 11)

Click the graphic to see the prompt, other poetry information, and links to more poems.

Today my Monday NaPo challenge was to “write a poem about a very large thing:” a mountain, whale, skyscraper, planet, or … an airplane.


B-52 BUFF

I was in uniform when I first watched, from a safe distance,
100-yards away from the air base runway, standing out
among the brown shin oak, scrub-brush prairie of west Texas,
by then the second largest US state in size, while
dozens of B-52s took-off separated by mere seconds.

Wider and longer than half a football field,
each lumbering silver giant powered by eight jet engines
seemed to groan as it gradually lifted
its 450-thousand-pound gross payload airborne,
mocking gravity while ostentatious clouds of black smoke billowed,
a roaring thunder shattered my ears as earth trembling
vibrations shook my entire eighteen-year-old body.

My friend scoffed when I said I would. But later,
as a less young crew dog at the heart of the beast,
I flew the Big Ugly Fat Fucker, affectionately BUFF.
The B-52 bomber set at my fingertips unnatural
science-fiction levels of destructive power
unknown in all the wars throughout human history.

The BUFF leaked fluids, stank of puke and piss,
was cramped and uncomfortable, dangerous
even to us, who both loved and hated her. She was old,
ugly, unglamorous, and deadly. However, together
with us, the whole was greater than the sum of parts.

Eventually hundreds became few. Only bones
and a few isolated squadrons remain today,
approaching 60 years hence.
The missions were long, tough, and thankless,
and occasionally as scary as hell itself.
So, why are my memories framed with such palatable pride?


Look both ways and all around for enigmatic things great and small.
Mind the gaps but ignore the flaws.
Anybody can do the easy.
Embrace the suck.

B-52s launching at minimum intervals of 12 seconds. The black smoke is created by water being injected into the engines and stops after a few minutes.

 

Friday Fictioneers 11 – 12 – 2021

Another Wednesday as marvelous Rochelle inspires us for Friday Fictioneers. We write micro-stories given ideas by a new photo each week, provided by creative and imaginative compatriots. You can read the rules over on Rochelle’s blog and join in the fun. Here is the photo and my story for this week.

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz. Click for trip to Rochelle’s blog.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 100
Title: Blind Man’s Bluff*

If Russians discovered us, we’d be captured or killed as spies. The last we saw before submerging to the bottom of the fjord were escarpments and mountains.

Life in a submarine a thousand feet down on the ocean floor is tense with fear and physically miserable. A whisper meant discovery and death. We sat for days entombed in dark silence.

Our air gone foul; our batteries low; we decided to escape. We started. Slowly, we crawled between underwater mountains.

Then, the skipper’s voice, “We’re clear. Surfacing in international waters. Another day at the office for Cold War bubbleheads, eh mates?


Look both ways as you run silent and deep.
Mind the safety of gaps between glacial mountains.
Learn the endurance capabilities of human life.

***

Click on picture of the Spy Submarine (USS Connecticut) to read other stories from the same prompt.

*Title from the Book, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew.

 

dVerse Quadrille #135: Shake that Poem Groove Thang

https://dversepoets.com/2021/09/06/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.

Sammi’s Weekender #224 (marshal)

Click or touch graphic for Sammi’s Blog.

America’s First

An army of one
Pompously preened
Proud Field Marshal for
Pearl of the Orient Seas

Baroque of dress
Greater than grace
Without humility
In defeat or dismissal
Pride over human life, yet
Human to the core, to the corps


Look both ways. History is prophecy.
Mind the gaps and seek the truth that may never be told.


Only one American has held the title of “Field Marshal.” Douglas MacArthur was appointed Field Marshal of the Army of the Philippines in 1936 when the island nation achieved a semi-independent status. MacArthur was to create an army for the fledgling country. He wore a special uniform, complete with a Field Marshal’s baton.

Many beautiful lyrical poems pine after the Philippines. Here, “Pearl of the Orient Seas” alludes to the phrase coined by Juan J. Delgado, a Spanish Jesuit missionary, in 1751, and to a poem by Jose Rizal (Mi ultimo adios), wherein he refers to the Philippines with that name.

Poetry: How did it feel? (NaPoWriMo day 23)

This morning, NaPo challenged me to write a poem that responds to another poet’s poem. I chose one titled “Natural History” by Leroy V. Quintana, one of five of his Viet Nam poems featured on PBS. But I could have responded to any, or all, of the five.


How did it feel?
To know you must go to Nam, to maybe die,
or go to jail, or to Canada?
To go there to kill any enemy, VC, NVA, or…?
To be overcome by fear, and to be forced
To kill anything that moved?
You’ve felt such fear I’ve never felt.
Not just some fight or flight twinge,
but big, sweaty, trembling, shit-your-pants fear,
both rational and sometimes crazy,
a fear that never goes away,
fear mixed with phenomenal anger,
when everything slows down, or stops,
where all you see, hear, feel,
smell, or taste wants to kill you, to maim you?
To suck the blood from your body?
And you can only live by killing him first,
or by not fighting, or shooting into the darkness,
or not, for fear of being exposed, or by tossing
grenades, or by friendly artillery fire so near you,
it may kill you? And most of all, how did it feel
to leave your comrades behind, to fly home
to clean clothes, a steak dinner, and
a thankless nation ignoring you,
wishing we’d all just go away? Trying to forget?


Look both ways along the path of a warrior,
that person sacrificed for the good of some system
like Capitalism, Communism, or Catholicism.
Mind the gaps for the fears and tears of real people,
both the living and the dead.

Poetry: Survival

What was the most tired you been?
Slept standing or fallen down tired?
Been so dizzy? I hallucinated.
At POW camp they
would not let us sleep.
Peed in a #10 coffee can,
locked in cell, both overflowed.

To learn how to survive capture,
being treated beyond awful, we endure
such misery; to live it, feel it, survive it.
I thought I would not. Might never try.
How did they survive not knowing;
forsaken and forgotten?
Many decided to die. Too awful
to live. Most decided otherwise.

Sometimes, dancing in the rain,
or walking through the fire
are both hard-learned lessons.

Look both ways for light at both ends of the tunnel.
Mind the gaps in the dark until you can see.
Find life. Love freedom.

Sammi’s Weekender #141: Imperious


The vertical pronoun was your god,
the long corncob pipe,
a crutch as you’d exude imperious
confidence of irresponsible
narcissistic self-assured vanity.

Brilliance without wisdom never
questions self or knows dark
duality like Hastie Lanyon’s soul.
Your crime, a distant impassioned
supercilious and cavalier concern
for the misery your pomposity
beset upon your courtiers, devout
mindless adventured foolish demons,

lost souls who rose to the peek
of principled Peters with blindfolded
ignorance of history in the future,
now a legacy of incompetence
foddered with pride. With hubris
envied by Xerxes, you forced
your own shameful dismissed
demise.

The wisdom of a fading old soldier
heroically without end is clouded
by the dark shadow of your way,
the way, and the way of stars.


Legacy looks both ways, but history finds truth in justice.
Mind the gaps of human success for the failure of the soul.

Poetry: Sammi’s Weekender 135, barricade


Seven-twelve, Forty-one

Sunday. Blessed dullness fenced
by deceptive barricades of ocean’s
water; the sails flotilla, distant bushido,
flying samurai set to slaughter
the honor of death to a sleeping
dragon, killing two thousand and more.

Pride in death over defeated dishonor
slithers and hums into beating hearts
of heroes from hell’s kitchen to honor
as oppressed saves oppressor,
as hours of death’s destruction
delights devils with a world at war.

Zeros screamed as tora roared and
state magazines exploded when the
dragon opened one eye and a bloody
mess of shock and awe was felt
around the globe and demon war
smiled, the angel of peace died.

Two thousand young dead,
two thousand more, thousands
butchered before
the sun set in the west
to a flash of final disgusting rage,
the emperor surrendered
with a whimper laid waste.


Look both ways, to a past of shameful honor and error,
as the future plays reruns.
Mind the gaps for truth of mankind’s inhumanity.

***

Poetry: Cut Throat

After being an Air Force officer for several years,
after being an enlisted dude for four years, and after
the oddly trainee controlled officer
training school, then flight training,
survival training, combat crew training
and many other experiences
that I have long since forgotten,

I was assigned to the Training Command
as a flight training instructor and commander.

An old instructor of mine was still there,
but he had been away to USC
to get his PhD.

He described command
flight training as a thousand officers
standing knee-deep in chicken shit,
stabbing each other in the back.

I found that description to be
remarkably accurate.

Look both ways in competitive careers.
Mind the gaps and where you step – and check six!
(motherfucker)

Poetry: Shots and Jabs

I was 18, standing in a line or queue up of young men like me,
Kennedy was dead and LBJ faced off with a cool-named
guy called Barry Goldwater. It was basic military training
in San Antonio, Texas, near where I would later spend
more than 16 years of my life.

Up ahead stood four medical corpsmen with what looked like
space age weapons called jet gun vaccinators, with small
deadly vials on top and compressed air hoses attached.
Later they learned these were spreading diseases
like hep-c, luckily not into me.

When the corpsman’s aim was bad, a sliced bleeding arm
could send a sad lad to fainting, out cold, falling,
rolling down the nearest bloodstained hill.
We got so many shots
we had to keep a little yellow book as a shot record,
that included things like typhoid and yellow fevers.
And other shit I’d never heard of or wanted.

They call it parenteral since you don’t swallow it
(remember polio vaccine on the sugar cubes?)
so the names are always intra-something like
-muscular, -venous, -cardiac, -articular; and get this,
intracavernous is a jab at the base of a man’s penis to
check and treat for erectile dysfunction.

I’ve had so many shots and jabs, most required for my job,
as military we go to places folks have such diseases.
Now, I’m a walking pharma needing boosters for old men.
I took the second of the new shingles jab last week, next month
they will shoot me with the flu (extra strength for old farts),
a disease I may get anyway — like I did last year.

I saw an advertisement for old people to get whooping cough shots
so as not to infect the young ones, who spend a good bit
of their time infecting the older ones. I think my whooping
immunity was the hosting of the disease itself, as it was with
mumps and measles and who knows what all I got into.
The chicken pox never really left, ergo shingles.

Nowadays, I get my shots at the grocery store along with
bread and milk and maybe some wine. No white clad corpsman,
no jet guns or four shots at a time. I decide. Three different
shingles shots and six weeks with a case of that pox-related
nightmare virus, I sure hope my immune system
fends off any of that painful shit, shingles.

 

Look both ways and thank science and immunity for better health
at the cost a poke. Mind the gaps,
a compromised immune system invites trouble.