Together Alone

    I saw the face of the other guy,
    Flying his bullet in the cold blue sky;
    His helmet was open and I could see
    The stony look he gave to me.

    Beneath us waves and distant shore
    Had seen us fly this sky before,
    And though we'd played these deadly games
    No one knew the others' names.

    Round and round our metal birds
    Flew watchfully and spoke no words;
    From him there was no colleagues' hail
    Not with the Red Star on his tail.

    Chess pieces were our ears, his eyes,
    Circling round those cold blue skies;
    But he had thunder and lightning hot,
    And he knew well that we did not.

    Seemingly safe, the thick white clouds
    Could quickly change to funeral shrouds,
    As from his fatal dragon fire,
    We'd hit the ground a metal pyre.

    Yet though we knew the dangers there,
    Still openly we probed this air;
    Our mission we would not let fail,
    Despite the Red Star on his tail.

    We knew the story of five-two-eight,
    Knew their fiery, final fate,
    Heard the killers' blazing guns,
    Knew we, too, might be the ones.

    But choices we had gladly made.
    And silent in the sky we stayed;
    Listening there with measured breath,
    With nothing there to ward off death.

    We did just what we had to do,
    Alone up there in the cold and blue;
    No matter what, they'd be no wail;
    To Hell with the Red Star on his tail!

    Bill Mahan -2006

    USAFSS 1961-1969