F-111 Aardvark

by A.B. Samien

Like that time I came home to find slugs
in the shade of mama's concrete steps,
dressed in uniform,
with little American flags,
burning, coated in salt.

like "Eighteen today, dead tomorrow,"
like "Draft Beer, not boys,"
"Fight the VD, Not the VC."

like the time I flew up the green mountainside
looking down to see my shadow so small,
a cross on the ground
so distant, like your rearview rosary
that night I followed you
because I wanted you back,

and found so much more.
Like clearing that green-topped ridge and
seeing it,
to pull the drop right on and watch
the melting villages with their upturned faces.

Like the old house I bought
with all the decaying bones of once beloved
laid to rest in tissue boxes littered feet below,
dog and cat, fish and rat, mouse, hamster and snake
all since replaced.

You had promised me you'd wait
and you meant it then.
but, yea, it was such a long time.
and no, you aren't making me feel any better
but I'll say you did.

Felt like walking to the edge of the pier, leaning forward,
and dropping my alarm clock from both hands.
Like sinking ringing to where light is dark
and dark is a vacuum ballad,
until my lungs burn fluid and
all I breathe sings truth.

The F-111 was used by the US Air Force beginning in 1967. F-111s were used by the Air Force for tactical bombing in Vietnam. It was unofficially known as the “aardvark” until its retirement ceremony in 1996 when the name became official.