Poem of the Month, July 2022

The poem of the month this month is one of my poems. It describes one of my more interesting adventures when I was in pilot training in central Texas many years ago.

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Dodging the Butte 

Early one morning, solo in my small training jet, 
practicing maneuvers in my assigned area west of Snyder, 
I decided to explore a cloud deck that was moving
slowly south, low above the surface of the flat west Texas plains.  
A thin layer, roads and fields visible beneath.  

I dipped a wing, pulled power back, 
dove through the thin edge of the gauzy cloud, 
banked left along a country road, 
followed it for a time, then pulled up  
through the cloud into the open skies above, 
a metal porpoise playing in a foam-filled sea.  

A second effort, farther west, through thicker cloud, 
the ground lost briefly from sight then visible again 
underneath the white layer, lots of room to spare 
as I rolled wings level, a hundred feet above its deserted surface, 
I might have been a rancher checking his fence line. 

Once again above the cloud, I sought a new section 
to explore.  Farther west, a cloud layer more thickly woven, 
one white bubble rising above the ground-covering blanket.  
I dipped the left wing in a shallow turn, banking to the west, 
easing into the whiteness, waiting for the ground to appear.  

A red light flashed past my right wing, cloud-shrouded, 
Attached to a tall tower, neon lights shining up from the ground, 
a blinking traffic light at a road intersection, not fifty feet 
beneath me, a gas station, restaurant, obscured in the cloudy 
morning darkness.  The road below vaguely visible 
through the dark gloom.  Ahead I see a dark object 
rising to a height above my flight level too high to pull over.
A solid rock butte standing up darkly in the grey cloud, 
Growing larger in my windscreen.  The road below 
angles to the right, past the object.  The road my guide, 
I follow it, the butte a black shadow now past my left wing 
as I pull up hoping for sky.  

Later, I checked my map.  
I had flown out of my training area, to a section where
the ground rose gradually.  My final dip through the solid cloud layer 
had taken me over a small Texas town, whose early rising residents 
had witnessed an early morning flyby 
from a young air force flyboy 
cruising past in exhilaration and fear 
westbound over Highway 180.  

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