Hurry up! and then wait
might be a cliché to some.
Army’s GI Joes claim it
as their own,
but we’ve all been rushed
and rushed, hurried along,
forced into quick-step like
anthropomorphic white rabbits
through Alice’s wonderland story
(not Arlo’s restaurant one)
and Grace’s slick psyche-song.
Rushed to somewhere
only there to wait,
and wait some more,
and then wait longer.
(‘twas no rarity, either.)
On top of that,
just like the mad hat,
they’d (we) add five minutes,
and then five more,
(if not ten) minutes early.
A military obsession
greater than want of
or crazy-ass war.
Embrace the suck
if it makes it
better how ya feel,
about it all,
was not late,
but had to wait.
We’ll all be early
for our own
(not Tulsa) time,
when late is just fine.
Look both ways if you’ve had “some kind of mushroom.”
Mind the gaps and “remember what the dormouse said, feed your head.”
For my twenty-sixth daily, prompted, voluntary assignment, today I was challenged to write a poem that contains at least one epic simile. These (Homeric) similes extend and develop over multiple lines with decorative elements that emphasize the dramatic nature of the subject. As suggested, I chose to write a complete poem as one long epic simile theme (salted with some metaphor) to carry the poem.
Flying Like Dragons
Like unleashed frightening awesomeness,
like giant thundering flying dragons with
massive wings lifting us skyward, roaring, breathing fire;
my brain blends with this pestilent machine, as if I’m guiding
an iron plague with deafening noise to wreak death,
to pour vengeance down upon their wrongs, a bane
to my enemies, a scourge of fire-for-fire. Flying
at invisible heights, with a sharp stinging tail, breathing
radiation into electrons, as my stealthy flying monster
seeks annihilation of the unjust.
Like a beast, it sees over great distances,
it smells its enemies in total darkness; then skillfully, silently
we approach as offensive defenders with hidden talons;
without emotion or fear, as if by kismet we destroy our prey
with automatic, irreversible, unmerciful curses.
Look both ways to see what is nearby but accept the limits of sensory perception.
Mind the gaps and trust your dragon’s instruments.
At the two-thirds complete NaPoWriMo Wednesday, my assignment, should I choose to accept it, was to humanize (anthropomorphize) a food.
Ask any front-line (combat) Army or Marine Corps Viet Nam War veteran about C-rations, especially about this one.
It is not an acquired taste
c-rats (thankfully) are nevermore.
But he who must not be named, you-know-who—of Hogwarts,
the Dark Lord of chow, bitter
Lord Voldemort of field rations
universally despised for bad taste.
In the boonies, in another world:
The Nam! What was in that can?
Bad luck shall befall if you say it— Ham and Lima Beans, say it
like a soldier: ham and motherfuckers
hated by virtually everyone,
thrown back like VC returning fire
by starving children: numba ten, GI!
International agreement at last.
The most disgusting (real) food ever.
(You gunna eat that?)
Look both ways and tell it like it was.
Mind the gaps when everything sucks.
Today my Monday NaPo challenge was to “write a poem about a very large thing:” a mountain, whale, skyscraper, planet, or … an airplane.
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.
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.
An army of one
Proud Field Marshal for
Pearl of the Orient Seas
Baroque of dress
Greater than grace
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.
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.