P-38, Burbank’s five-sworded,
child of Operation Vengeance,
Rosie the Riveter’s demon,
mower of roads, in thousands
you stormed the nightmares
of the survivors of your whisper
as Californian as surfers and guitars.
B-58 of arrowhead wings,
master of time to climb to alabaster
atmosphere, your strength roared
to silent desert parking lot and cost
10 cups of gold. Knight of swords
with a coke bottle body, nuclear blade on sky,
you almost waged the micrometer’s war
against a world as fleshly as people falling from a tower.
F-22, the zero at the game’s end,
grounded angel that may yet be
the chariot that kills every enemy
for all our money, two of pentacles
dancing in a dumb show that ends
when you strangle your pilot,
your kill ratio unblemished,
you are our zenith, our disaster, our frailty.
Eric Howard is a magazine editor who lives in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, Caveat Lector, Conduit, Gulf Stream Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Plainsong, and The Sun.