“Night Mission over Hanoi”

by Frederick Hinchliffe II

They did not warn me
about the beauty:
white parabolas reaching up,
hooks of light falling away;
100s and 85s
crashing into Heaven
erupting with solemn authority,
blooms of marigold stars,
roiling umbral borders;
the tripping, staccato meter
of 37s travelling in constellations,
marking off their acres of sky
like daisies in a field;

They did not warn me
not to admire the spider-web tracery,
lest I be drawn spellbound
into the arachnean jaws;
not to stare into the flickering guns
lest their serpentine stream of shells
deliver me a warrior bite.
Yet who is not attracted
to the slick and shining
perfection of the viper’s scales?