The Dawn Patrol
The dawn breaks.
Each man rolls in his bed, cough
in the arms of his woman.
Soon they will face in the skies.
They are the fighter pilots.
The German Ace, and the American Hero.
Each one, his thoughts the same,
From the first glance through the curtains,
What Clouds, What weather?
Will I live today?
And it is the same thoughts
In the heads of their mistresses.
Choice and Chance
have brought them to this day,
this place and time,
When they are both pilots.
They check] their guns.
The lineman pulls down sharply.
The engine coughs, and he is a waving blur.
On the rudder and they turn full power into the wind.
The tail bounces and lifts.
The whole plane leaps into the sky.
For one the Sun is on the left.
For the other, on the right.
They and their companions race to meet.
From half a mile up they look down.
What are those little men doing down there?
Of course it is the same thing,
Only below they creep and crawl.
Both pilots pity those below.
At least they have this view.
At least if they are to die,
They will not be just soldiers,
This was their whole hearted choice in the matter.
Then the moment for thoughts and remembrances is gone.
They are on each other.
Straight on they come for just a moment,
And then it is down and away for speed,
Up and after each other in turns.
And in turn after turn, and dive after dive,
For seconds they see their chances,
From the corners of their eyes
they see trails of smoke.
Burning men with nowhere to go,
and no time.
Until it is only these two
Circling and skidding
and wishing the other would explode before them,
So they could just go home.
Then as the German Ace feels the American Hero
pulling tighter behind him
He dives, but not fast enough,
Not hard enough, and he turns.
What was he thinking?
It is too late. The American Ace dives too;
The bullets smash into the cockpit
tearing through the Germans' body.
That night one boy from the farms of the Midwest
is dancing and holding her tight.
Across the fields, in a similar place,
One woman sits alone.
Before her is set a drink.
She is crying.
Another man in a uniform with little wings
and an Iron Cross,
Puts his arm around her,
As if to comfort her.