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fdelano

At Last

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fdelano

At Last

 

On Easter morn

we lift off, shakily,

in a bucket of bolts

held together, or not,

with skill and spit.

 

Another day in Paradise.

Just low scud over the Nam

and cool at angels two-five.

Last sortie, carrying thoughts

of back in the world.

 

Screeching strobes stir

the steaming jungle

with seeking scythes

and forever seconds.

Constricted sphincters, all.

 

Upside down and pull

of stick to fly the crescent,

only to confront the same

indifferent homing hunter.

Break the other way, please,

pilot.

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dr_con

Like being there. Damn sent shivers up my spine. Tense, well crafted. Just fantastic.

 

Con/Jur/D


Join the Voodoo rEvolution. Classes forming now: http://www.integralvoodoo.org/

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fdelano

Thank you, Doc. "Being there" is where I strive to put the reader. I was afraid the military jargon would be confusing, but they are in the vernacular of those years of flying. This one is as true and short as possible for me. No, nobody puked. Kind of like getting your sea legs. It's amazing to me--at my age--that the details of past events are still fresh, most times not a pleasant ability.

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David W. Parsley

Franklin, this is true to life, with breathless immediacy.

 

Nice work

- Dave

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Benjamin

Nothing confusing about this Franklin, it's mesmerising. The sibilance of the third stanza enhances the tension and the "constricted sphincters" add a most human touch. Excellent work.G

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fdelano

Dave and Geoff, thank you. I tried here to seem almost mundane, which flying most often is, except for moments of pure terror. I still think of times like that as though seeing a car wreck coming and avoiding collision at the last moment. Sen. John McCain often says he did a good job of intercepting a missile. ;)

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dedalus

Leave out Stanza 3, (Screeching strobes, etc,) and this piece is just about bloody-well perfect! Vietnam was not a good place to be, I know, but think about the enormous flight crew casualties in WWII. It went up from 20 to 30 missions and only 30-35% of the guys went home in one piece. In the RAF it was even worse. It was the highest casualty rate in the war apart from German U-boats, over 50%. I met a bunch of these U-boat veterans in San Francisco in 1978 when my guide was a young German naval lieutenant, sent over to organize something or other . These guys were laconic, grizzly seamen from the port towns who thought Hitler was a joke and fought for Germany. I speak rapid (if ungrammatical) colloquial German and was finally eased out, after hearing many chilling stories, somewhere around the region of 4 am. I've never forgotten it. Later I saw the movie 'Das Boot about a single U-boat on patrol and it sent chills up my spine. Every single guy in the movie reminded me of one of the sailors I'd met. Spooky, but true. Germans. I understand them one-on-one, so I actually kind of like them. But you definitely cannot trust them in a group. I was about to say they remind me of Americans, especially in their convention mode, all silly hats and ribbons, but that's pushing the boat out too far. Americans can be stupid, but the Germans were actually evil.


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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fdelano

All the Germans? All Americans? Wars are individual experiences, all different. B-17s out of England flew high altitude, precision bombing missions. They employed evasive maneuvers when flak began popping. Gen. Curtis Lemay, admired and hated, decided that evading flak affected bombing accuracy and ordered straight in bomb runs, knowing the casualty rate would rise. Reminds me of "Into the Valley..." "Das Boot" is one of the truly realistic movies ever. "Twelve O'clock High" is another. Watch "Tunes of Glory" if you want to see flamboyancy. Alec Guinness, the best. Now back to the imminent and eminent royal birth. Must get our priorities in line, you know. Wonder why ALL Irish are exceedingly arrogant of others, even themselves? Oops, another exaggeration and generalization. You're likely right about the 3rd stanza, but then it wouldn't be mine without it. Thanks, Bren.

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moonqueen

I agree, take away nothing, Franklin, it wouldn't be you. This one has not affected me in the same gut-punch way that some of your others have, but instead seems to represent some level of tedium in the job. The stress alone would be so, for me. As always, a pleasure.

 

t

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dcmarti1

Well done piece, but it is actually frightening to think how "mundane" war can now be written about: drones, helicopter missions caught on video (can you say Wikileaks?), new & endless "enemies", etc. I was a Squid, not a Wing Nut, Franklin.....how's THAT for military jargon? Thanks for sharing these personal reflections.

 

Just a comment: is there ever a LAST sortie? Hopefully.....

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fdelano

Thanks, Tamra. Your comments have kept me plugging away at this new world of poetry. Marti, this was my last mission, #133, 1972. They were cutting orders to send me back and I refused. The brass volcano erupted.

 

Last mission for me was 41 years and three months ago, today. BAT-21 went down. SA-2 missile. Five crew died; navigator survived, rescued eleven days later by a Navy Seal who was awarded the Congrssional Medal of Honor. Eleven others died trying to rescue Lt.Col Hambledon.

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