Return o-eight-thirty, with just one plane missing,
There's a hum at the aerodrome, a sibilant hissing,
That permits of no yelling or loss of control
As they count the planes back from damn dawn patrol.
We took off in gray light and flew to the east,
Where among the stray clouds we encountered the Beast,
Who shot down the new man, as warfare requires,
Leaving us to reflect on the wind in the wires.
We're one short for breakfast, tell the lads in the mess
But I can't quite untangle if we're fewer or less;
The one thing I know is that life soon expires —
And you'll know it yourself by the wind in the wires.
When the shells from a Maxim come pattering through
The wing's canvas covering still streaked with dew,
You'll quickly surmise, when the man behind fires,
That you should have listened to the wind in the wires.
When your engine is smoking and spitting out oil,
And the heavens are spinning and the earth's all a-roil,
Time to try on your wings, your robes and your lyres
When the struts start to shake from the wind in the wires.
He jumped free rather than ride the flames down,
And probably landed in some sleepy French town;
His music this morning may be sweet unseen choirs,
But I'm sure that he's hearing the wind in the wires.
Just another hard winter above the front lines,
And we'll do it all over when next the bell chimes;
Our short days are dying and the pale sun retires —
Just the hunters and hunted, and the wind in the wires.
by Samuel A. Southworth
... who is a poet and military historian; his books include
Great Raids in History: From Drake to Desert One
(Sarpedon: 1997) and US Special Forces (Da Capo: 2002). He
has been trained for wilderness EMT / SAR, and served as a
volunteer medic at Ground Zero in New York City during September