Sunday, August 7, 2011

Red Tail


Image borrowed from Bing

Red Tail

Amelia was not a classic beauty,
reed-thin Kansas lass, short, gap-toothed
with an overbite, flaxen blond hair shorn
short in the style of the aviatrix, wearing
long pants fitting tightly across
her shapely bottom, and a bulky aviator
leather jacket, but her personality
and place in history captured people’s awe
and imagination, and for several years she
was considered “America’s Sweetheart”,
dubbed as “Lady Lindy”, and the truth
was that she never was a great pilot,
but she loved to fly and used the adoration
to fund her adventures, endorsing AE clothing,
AE luggage, AE kitchen wallpaper, breakfast cereal
and Lucky Strikes.

One day in 1937 she decided it was time
for her to cement her place in aviation
and circumnavigate the globe, and Putnam
gave her a great shining silver bird
to do it in, a Lockheed L-10 Electra,
with its flamboyant twin red tails,
and those gorgeous red racing stripes
on the front edges of its 55 foot wing span,
38 feet in length and sleek, perching
ten feet above the tarmac, majestic,
one of only 149 ever made.

When the Electra was airborne,
with the sun shining
on its polished aluminum skin,
it was a sultry mechanical bird of prey,
twitching its twin ochre tails, hanging proud
in the infinite blueness, piercing a tall white tower
of clouds, playfully plunging through the cumulus
like a huge red-tailed hawk; diving, soaring, banking,
climbing, then gliding at 19,800 feet; surely
it was machine invincible.

Amelia overloaded it though, and during
the first attempt to get it off the ground,
she panicked and poor judgement entered;
several heavy bounces, a wing tipping, skidding
and tearing off the landing gear, and she
escaped alive.

The caring gods of the air sent her a message,
“Amelia, stay on the ground this time; give up
this folly. You are forty years old. Do not tempt
the fates yet again. The Atlantic was a lark.
The Pacific will snare your soul, steal your dreams,
crush your spirit. There is a wind demon
who awaits you, a rainbow dragon hovering
in the darkness over the South Pacific.”

She awoke from her nightmares angry, defiant,
eager to prove the voices of prophesy wrong,
so she launched her silver hawk straight
southeast out over her sweet Atlantic,
sliding down over South America
and across Africa, head-long into a maelstrom
brewed over the Pacific, hell-bent for a series
of unfortunate mistakes and events
that would leave the Electra without fuel,
plummeting down, she and Noonan,
would plunge screaming deep and cold
thousands of feet below the waves,
into mythos and oblivion.

They say that on some hot July nights
off the western reef of Howland Island,
sometimes one can hear the strong purr
of twin Pratt and Whitney 450hp engines,
drawing ever closer; then snap, swish--
silence is sovereign, and the ghost plane
slips back into legend.

Glenn Buttkus

August 2011

Listed as #10 over on Magpie Tales 77

Would you like to hear the Author read this poem to you?

8 comments:

Kay L. Davies said...

So believable, Glenn. I was with her all the way.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Tess Kincaid said...

Chills. I love the notion of a ghost plane!

Zoe said...

Oooh, nice! Well, in that 'beautifully written but haunting' kind of way! :)

Brian Miller said...

standing there on the porch, i am listening for it...nice job bringing a bit of history to life in to the present...what an interesting tale she has eh?

Mama Zen said...

Well done!

Mystic_Mom said...

Haunting, and so honest. She wasn't a great pilot but like many who flew she did it because of love, she loved to fly. You got that in a wonderful way!

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Amelia. A ghost lost in her love.

The Cello Strings said...

your magpie takes us for a wild and adventurous ride.

well done.