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.