“Good Luck, Bad Luck, and Orange”

by Frederick Hinchliffe II

Like a bird
yet unlike any bird
titanium and flames
waddled on the takeoff run.
But Lord! How it could fly!
We were lucky to be aboard
faster than thunder
higher almost than air
Rob in back spotting missiles
flying telephone poles
they were everywhere.
We chased David and Chris
in the lead plane through clouds
of Agent Orange
brought it home to the ship
wore it on our clothes.

When Agent Orange took Rob
we were saddened;
when it laid David in bed
we were concerned;
when Chris couldn’t walk
we found out.

Like no bird
David lies motionless in bed
as Chris and I visit and reminisce.
Chris, balancing on crutches,
makes an airplane of his hand
how a bolt came loose in the wing
jammed the controls
Chris’s hand flops this way and that
dives for the water
how David pulled the plane up
landed back aboard ship.
David nearly smiles, his eyes willing
his lips to move.
We were lucky, he mumbles.
We were lucky, says Chris.