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
Look both ways in competitive careers.
Mind the gaps and where you step – and check six!
I prefer to write Sammi’s weekend prompt on Sunday. When I looked at it on Friday, I wrote a poem. It just happened: oops, a poem. I decided this weekend’s prompt could be for each day of the weekend, including Friday. My three on replace:
Going Home Again (Friday)
I’ve tried to go back home,
to the place where
I was born.
It was the right place,
but I was not the him who
I was when I left.
I was unable to replace me,
and you weren’t who
you once were.
No longer was I one of you,
not of the same tribe,
only a memory.
Once you leave, it’s done.
You can never go home again,
we can’t go back in time.
What was is finished,
only the whisper of memory
holds us in the past.
Irreplaceable Love (Saturday)
If you lose someone you love
you can’t replace them
nor the love you felt.
Each love is unique. It may
change or flat-out die,
but most love remains in us.
We can’t feel so much love
that we wear it out,
like an old pair of shoes.
The love we feel is at least
for as long as one shall live,
I hope all my love lasts forever.
Be it a pet or a person, family
or friend, music or memory,
no love can replace a true love.
Relief Strategy (Sunday)
Planning battles, reserves
part of the relief strategy for
casualties and the weary.
In basketball they are the bench,
In football, second string,
baseball has relief pitchers from
the bull pen that replace starters.
My Dad referred to men
as being on relief. Years later,
I learned he meant welfare,
not to replace.
Then there is that personal relief we crave
during difficult or painful times, like in
the Jerry Clower story about coon huntin’—
I been coon huntin’ and lemme tell ya,
it’s just that funny.
Look both ways in them Mississippi swamps.
Mind the gaps for Lynx.
Jerry Clower’s most famous story was his coon huntin’ story about the time he and his friends went hunting that evolved into an entanglement… if Jerry don’t make you laugh, you need relief. If you got the time, he’s irreplaceable.
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.
Hello, October; goodbye September for another year. For some of us, the march of time is the welcome process of growing up, while others (like me) are alarmed by rapidly advancing days.
Where I live, this year’s September had more days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit than ever, by a large number. Technically, it’s now Autumn. Climatologically, it’s not even close. And some rain, please! (Welcome to Texas)
Personally, it has been a difficult and challenging month for me with family issues demanding my attention and needing my practical and emotional participation. Some of that drama, fear, and heartache are rolled into my poems. But not as much as I would have expected. I did not like the shit storms at all, but I was grateful for the emotional fodder. For me, this is often less craft and more about the art of breaking things. I do like the feeling of being useful and having a purpose.
Thirty days hath September and I wrote 30 more poems. I wrote more on some days because when Muse speaks, I write, but those extras don’t count for the dailies. The titles of the daily poems were:
Sit on my lap Forever
See Bugs Try
When It’s Real
Sometimes, It is Something
Monet at Kimbell
Watching the World go by (standing by a busy interstate highway)
The Genocide of Humanity
Those Tears Count
Skinny Short People
Best and Worst
Under the Red Veil
So They Say
The Young Turks
The Ultimate Ultimatum
Prim’s not Proper
Look both ways, but what matters most is that it is officially Fall,
the third season. A beautifully decorative time of year.
While we should always mind the gaps, we should also enjoy the time.
Standing by the side of the interstate
I see the traffic, signs of our active
Semi drivers draggin’
the line from DFW, Abilene, and
points east; toward Midland,
Odessa, El Paso and places
with fewer murders.
Swiftly passing here – in the midst
of nowhere, eight out of ten
are trucks, most 18-wheelers
dragging all manner of trailers,
some rides with goosenecks
for smaller loads, others following
piggy-backed FedEx loads
doing seventy, noisy diesel engines,
flatbeds full and west-bound,
empty east-bound to fetch more
Permian Basin bound oilfield
supplies, and back again.
Moving trailer homes and machinery
and all manner of truckable
paraphernalia by employed
truck drivers. Most cars and SUVs
are a minor nuisance
in the weekday world
of transportation work.
And all this wild panic seen
from three amazing minutes
standing near the side of the road.
Look both ways up and down the arteries of commerce.
Mind the gaps. They fill rapidly.
I opened the door and walked into a crowded room.
People, most I did not know, were sitting around,
all seats taken. I had a right to be, and should have been,
invited to the meeting, but since I’m a half-breed — excluded.
Everyone stopped talking and stared at me. I knew I was
the unwanted black sheep in a room of wolves and vultures,
there only to devour carrion and pick the bones of the dead.
Something in my nature delighted in their obvious discomfort.
They declared the meeting over and said I should have
been there. I did not ask the location of my invitation.
I thought, y’all low life vulture mother fuckers,
but I said, “No problem. Things will somehow work out.”
Oh, the sweet feeling of justice and the touch of revenge,
oh, the fine fit of the suit called, we’re even.
Did they think I would not know or gain?
I almost felt guilty for twisting the knife,
but guiltlessly I prompted their pain.
Putting things right feels real nice.
Look both ways in rooms empty or full.
Mind the gaps. That’s where the evil hides.