morning after morning
in the clear, cold dark
he’d strap himself
into the cold leather seat.
the dark green silhouette of
of the tail split his view
between life and death, night
and day, east and west,
here and home.
up he’d fly, hand wrapped
stiffly around the cold
steel gun. riding backwards
through the South Pacific skies
in his pilot’s Curtiss Helldiver.
his canopy slid back
the bitter winds at 8,000 feet
cut as deep as shrapnel
and lead and .50 caliber slugs.
i’m sure in the quiet stretches
of sky and sea he found
plenty of time to think of home
and his motorcycle and Sara Jane.
i’m sure that his skin rose with
dread as the radio crackled and
the Captain chimed in with orders
to pursue, to attack, to bomb,
bullets whizzed by leaving iridescent
contrails as the hot metal sliced
the cold, thin air. his mask tightly
secured, his aim sure, his tracers
weaving fire threads through the
and Japanese fathers plummeted
to their deaths in the deep, deep
Pacific at his hands. better them
than Grady. better them than
and he left his plane and ribbons
and medals and met me, some 30
years later. his first grandson.
33 more years and i’d watch his
last battle. gathered in the dimly
lit room as he quietly breathed his last
and flew on home. to momma.
i hope on his way he passed again
over those dark blue waters. upwards
and onwards, just a glance down – but
it was the South Pacific in our
second Great War. My grandpa
was there….and so was i.