By Art Elser
I step into a cacophony of city sounds
as people rush to catch the evening news.
Then, they fade below some threshold
as my ear selects the swoosh
of rotor blades, the whine of a turbine jet.
Glinting steel and glass play with the sounds.
I search the sky, not knowing where to look.
Memory plays with them too,
taking me back some thirty years.
I hear the first of two Jolly Greens,
rescue choppers, lifting off from DaNang.
I wait to hear the second and the roar
of fighter escorts as they race to find
some luckless pilot just shot down.
Two nights ago I scanned a list, forward air controllers
killed in Vietnam—two hundred eighteen of them.
We flew the same planes and missions.
Dave Brenner—I woke him at six thirty
so he could fly to his death.
Hal Halbower, my classmate,
shot down by his own artillery.
Lankford, Sellers, Budka, killed
during the sixty-seven Christmas truce
Sam Deichelmann, the flamboyant one,
who went to fly the secret war in Laos
and died over the even-more-secret jungle.
John Egger, the aging major, who wanted to know
what it was like to be shot at.
He died up north finding out.
The Jolly Greens head out to rescue them.
I almost shout, Too late! Too Late!
Then I see a TV-news chopper flying out
to report a fire, a holdup, or traffic.
I struggle back those years.
My feet walk a Denver street,
my memories, the flight line at DaNang.