B52 Pilot

Long ago, I spoke to a Vietnam Veteran at length, a B 52 pilot. His words really changed my life. Speaking with him was the single act that sent me head long into this spiritual event or exercise that I keep mentioning. And yes, one day when I have the time I will write about it. However, at this point in my life I do not really have time to write. My sweet husband now has the itch to move. And it is not into this lovely cottage that we were looking at. Now it is a condo – one floor, eminently wiser as we indeed age. He is on the hunt. So here is another war poem from a pilot’s perspective. Clear left, clear right, flying terms I learned when I learned when I learned to fly. Basically you look to your right and left to see if anyone is flying near you before you turn (in a small aircraft anyway).

B-52 Pilot

The flames still leap.
My dreams aflame with hell’s fire.
Limbs still seen hanging off the wing,
suspended in mid-air.
Done now, the war over forty years
or so but still the fire comes
and still it burns. There is no sweet waking
for me from this restless sleep.
Split peach the color on the horizon,
a deep glowing red next to me. Blood red.
Dark limbs form this painful crown
round my head thorns deep.
This fire on the wing,
gaping craters below,
only numbness provides
me with a death like rest.
I am unable to awaken
or raise up.
Like a hawk, my wings broken
I fall to the ground too old to fly.
What was it for this emptiness
this black void?
Clear left, clear right, still the fire burns.
Now I am just a lonely sorrow, lost.

2008-2010 © Liz Rice-Sosne

OPEN FOR CRITIQUE. For the Poetry Pantry

12 thoughts on “B52 Pilot

  1. This is stunning – the last line is incredible. A lonely sorrow, lost. Wow. I loved the sound of the sweet cottage, but a condo does sound very practical – we need to down size sooner rather than later……while we still are able to! Good luck!!!!!

  2. This really captures something important, Liz. I can imagine how long after a Vietnam War pilot has stopped flying he would continue to see those flames leaping. So hard to be surrounded by so much death. Haunting.

  3. i can not imagine what they went through…such a huge target in the sky, you know you are going to take flak…the bomb director as well in the glass window….geez….knowing you will probably die…def vivid as i imagine talking to him was as well…

  4. Liz,

    You have much to still write about, especially after what you have shared in this poem…. I suspect that the images in the mind of the B-52 Pilot, are as vivid today, as during his times of active service and afterwards…You have reported a very realistic experience.
    Best wishes with your home move, whenever:)

  5. A most excellent poem, Liz! I can very easily believe that such a terrifying experience as the Vietnam War would haunt a veteran all his life. “I am unable to awaken / or raise up.” – one of my favorite lines.

Your words of response are greatly appreciated.

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