jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (Default)
[personal profile] jjhunter posting in [community profile] poetree
Posted on behalf of [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith for formatting reasons.

This poem is military science fiction. It's the first in the Clockwork War series, which deals with an alien invasion. The storyline grew out of a discussion about handicapped characters in comic books. Here, soldiers find ways of continuing the fight despite crippling injuries. There are four poems in this series, of which two have been posted. You can find the series on my Serial poetry page.

A Turning Point in the Clockwork War

A war of attrition
depends on supply and drawdown,
how much you have and how much you use up.
With personnel, the balance concerns
the influx of recruitment versus
the outflow of casualties, deserters, invalids.
There is only so much loss
that a fighting force can sustain
and still fight.

Pilot Claude Archer was the first
to challenge his invalid discharge.
"I don't need legs to fly," he said,
patting the healed stumps of his thighs.
"My Osprey runs on elbow grease."

The members of the discharge board
paused and looked at each other.
What he said was true.
The Osprey-class fighter jets
relied on hand controls,
and a sharp eye and iron nerve.

Fingers flicked through the stack
of discharge papers -- so many, many pages.
So many soldiers lost, never to fight again.
They could not afford to let slip even one
who might be retained, somehow,
to face the front line once more.
Far less could the war effort spare
one of its best pilots.

So they put Pilot Archer back on the roster,
and he set about making the adjustments.
He spent hours in the simulator, relearning
balance and shift and control.
Arms honed from flying the Osprey
made short work of the wheelchair,
and he made his morning laps in a whir of spokes.
On the weekend, he chucked the chair by a bench
and dragged himself through the obstacle course
hand-over-hand and belly-crawl and roll.

When the botflies attacked in mechanized swarms,
their flight giving off an evil whine,
Pilot Archer rose on wings of stern blued steel
and shot them down in a rain of white-hot debris.

The ground crew held him on their shoulders
while he stenciled a row of fresh silhouettes
onto the Osprey's fuselage
with his strong, rock-steady hands.

Thank you!

Date: 2011-10-14 05:58 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>I love how it ends focusing on the strength and steadiness of his hands (and his character, perhaps?<<

Yes, both.

>>There's a refreshing matter-of-factness about it all: this is what needs to be done for Pilot Archer to adjust, so that's what he does. <<

That's why I went with military SF for the genre here, rather than staying in the superhero context. I wanted that straightforward, "get the job done" approach.

I'm glad this worked for you! Hopefully the other poems will get sponsored eventually.


poetree: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)

February 2017


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