Poem of the Month–September 2021

Wings and Cargoes

Outbound

Early morning of a sunshine day in September, the east coast
shining like a picture post card. The airliners flying among
the tall structures, tour buses with wings, giving those on board
a view of New York they would remember in their dying day.
Planes, passengers, baggage piercing the high buildings like arrows
from an alien god. Fire and smoke, then melted metal,
glass and stone collapsing in a welter of debris and sadness.
People walking the streets and freeways covered in ghostly powders,
living remembrancers of the dead, whose souls had disintegrated
in the bright late summer’s light. The man who developed the plan
said he would use their technology to deal them a blow they
would remember forever. From his distant bunker he saw
the wings of commerce kill three thousand people.

Inbound

Dark of night in early May, among the hills and dry terrain of
Abbottabad, the landscape visible only to radar and night vision
goggles. Three helicopters carrying ten men each, guns and radios.
A sudden assault against the strange compound, its triangular wall
like an antique fort. Confusion, shots and shouts echoing in
the narrow halls. The final burst of gunfire, then his lifeless body
inert among the rugs, the maps, the pornography.
When he heard the pulsing beat of helicopters coming from the west,
growing louder in the moonless skies, what were his thoughts?
He should not have been surprised, as those others were, by the hard
purposes of human-powered flight. As he stood in his dark tower, did he
recognize the wings of retribution slicing through the desert darkness?
Had he anticipated the awful symmetry of his design?

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