What has grazed against the sky and left
as seeping wounds these tangled vines?
Like drenched brushes dabbing at blank
parchment, Zero and Hellcat have turned
differential lift into veils of condensation.
But the hand behind these brushes is the foil
in our dogfight mind. We all fly cursively
in dreams, taking roofs for runways, clearing
with somatic leaps jagged lines of grasping
trees, warding off with myoclonic airborne
kicks the threatening clutch of others.
In the special effects of oneiric flight
we emulate not birds but martial
figurations of vertiginous selves.
This material has been floating around for decades but reached this definitive — I hope anyway — form following an exchange with Uncle Dave, mentioned here before in the notes to Tethering. Another recent poem, Skywriting, had caught his attention because of shared family history, on my paternal side, of control line model aviation.
Also, by way of association with another war story, the memorial I wrote for my namesake Uncle George on the maternal side stirred up in him memories of a pilgrimage he, Davo, took in 1997 to visit Peleliu Island, one of the most horrific stages in what is known as the Pacific theater of WW2, September-November, 1944. The carnage there was a Pacific counterpart to that suffered at the battle of Bruyères in northeast France at the same time. Uncle George had perished at Bruyères, where I traveled in 1999 in search of information and knowledge about him.
The poem itself fits into a sequence of mute or sonnets, a venerable literary form usually rhymed but in any case based on sets of positive integrers within the number 14, though few literary types see it this way.
No one but me is likely to notice the wormholes opening in this poem — those unsuspected passageways which lead from a word or image off to many other notional or emotional sites. For example, to mention one simple word-set, “myoclonic” here and “apneic” in Beauty Sleep.
Yet I cannot easily explain the existential wormholes which connect the clustered, honeycombed events Peleliu-like beneath these texts, especially the mystery in the fact that both Uncle Dave and myself set off unbeknownst at roughly the same time to the same conceptional shrine, WW2 and its victims.
Of course one way of explaining them would be just to say that Davo and I have lived in the same times.
< Pastis. Photo < Wiki Commons: “Fighter plane contrails mark the sky over Task Force 58, 19 June 1944”.