Two Poems

Last Flight of a Vickers Gun Bus Pilot

Arthur’s knights took horse and squire to slay
their foes. I ride a bloody kite; a silly
boy up front to man my gun. The sly
Boche fly Eindeckers today. This slow
F.B.9 can’t pace them as they slue

from side to side, shooting our wings to lace.
And now my gunner’s tendered up his lease
on life. I’d land, but Jerry’s thick as lice
below. A passing Hun laughs, “Vas ist los?”
arcs back, and turns his twin-mount Spandaus loose.


First Poet on Mars

When I was young, and loved a stirring tale,
science seemed simpler. Vast canals of teal
crisscrossed the Martian sands; forts in red tile
crowded the shores; and merchant ships paid toll
to row those waters, their holds full of tulle
and thyme. Or so we dreamed. But in the stale
air of this dead world, among these steel
domes, I’m breathless, grasping for a style
to speak an arid truth: that science stole
my box of dreams to use as its footstool.

—Lester Smith, Elkhorn, WI