Calvin Thomas Jr.

C
Calvin Thomas Jr.
Defense Mechanism
This is about heroes, and you should know
I do not mean old men with membranous snow
Already patching them on hand and cheek;
I mean the medaled models from the Greek
On whom the air force lavishes technique
Like tennis lessons and engineering toys
Given at schools for preparatory boys.

Say what you will, this flyer on his base
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For a Girl Killed at Sea
I see the ships, the plotted crash,
The stateroom’s purgatory trash,
The waiting wedged and still no splash.
There is the torch that burns not through
Unless it drowns the sailor crew
Shoring the bulkhead pinning you.
And then the priest who, being ill,
Intones through steel the bitter pill:
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Insanity
The quick-sliding cape of mind
Drags wrinkled on a dusty floor,
A party dress,
Sagging from those shoulders
of a smile
that stalks through crooked time
followed by a goat
nipping the petticoat.
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On the Crash of an Airliner at Takeoff
When bodies broken and all bodies seared
Are counted up, uncrusted, tagged as feared,
We know next day the scene will stand alone
On pages white and mindless of the bone.
Shall notice recognize beyond the burned,
Or caption past the people tritely charred,
Related dusty partness with the term
Antiquity, the sense of death in stone
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Warning from a Visitor in the Control Tower
To airmen crossing and communicant
With orders of this field, no landing here
But by the grace of God; no postulant
Piloting earthward should abuse his fear:
Trust in the instruments which fall their round,
Tonight the only ceiling is the ground;
Zero, from nothing into nothing made,
Signifies all of altitude that stayed.
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