and other poems by

Illustrated by

Copyright 1961

Previously Printed Poems
Used By Permission
Of Publishers

... to those whose profession is peace ...

Bail Out
Seven League Boots?
Zebra Flight
The Atomic Bomb
Happy New Year?
Song of the Open Cockpit
To Wyneth (IV)
My Prayer
A Hunger
Joy Ride
Lackland Dawn
Look Ma, I'm in the Movies!
Strategic Air Command (No Sweat)
The Thirteen Jinn
Combat Ready
A Flier's Salute
Aircraft Commander
The Armored Fist
Saddle Maker
The Price of Peace
The Stranger Returns
Street Scene
Bomb Run
Of Airplanes and Dragons
Aerial Tanker
Christmas Alert
Everyday Valentines
A Washroom Prayer
A Gift for the Padre
The Good Samaritans
The Visitor
Celestial Navigation
The Temple
The Victor
The Cup
An International Problem
Epitaph for Communism
The Slave
And On the Eighth Day
The Plague
The Air Force Wife
The Sayer of Sooth
Upper Crust
Water Wings
To Wyneth (V)
Love is Like a Mountain Stream
The Cold War
To A Pacifist
Look Up, To The Cross
To A Puritan
Veterans' Day: In Memoriam
The Astronaut and the Ocean
A Thumbnail Sketch Of The Author


She rode the heavens like a gull
On flashing silver wing;
With bones of steel and nerves of wire,
Hydraulic blood and heart of fire;
A lovely, flying thing.

As close as hands, or feet, or breath,
We leaped up toward the sun;
I was her master and her brain,
A human soul: a living plane;
We were not two, but one.

Then suddenly, disaster struck;
We towed a flaming trail.
While in my hand the stick went slack,
She flipped herself upon her back,
And fell like gun-shot quail.

I did not want to leave this home,
But knew it soon must die.
I took a breath, tucked in my feet;
Then squeezed the grips that fire the seat,
And shot out toward the sky.

I swung beneath white shining silk;
My plane hit far below;
Returned its metals to the earth
That gave my human body birth;
And this one thing I know ...

I ride my body, like the plane;
I love it well, and yet
When it breaks down beyond all doubt,
Then I, myself, will bail out,
And watch without regret.

Pease AFB "Viking"
Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, NH

Seven league boots have I,
of which the Ancient sings;
the path I tread, the sky!
My boots are silver wings.

The Ancient dreamed; "A mile
for every measured stride!"
I think of this, and smile;
for where he walked, I ride!

First Place, College Student Section, Arkansas Poetry Fair

Alone we live, alone we die,
Alone we laugh, alone we cry.
Alone while in our mother's womb,
Alone while lying in the tomb.
Alone we walk from day to day,
Alone ... but when we kneel to pray.


Just one thing you did for me:
You eased my load a little while.
Unashamed, you let me see
The love and trust behind your smile.

Though I do not know your name,
Love and trust I can repay ...
I will go and do the same;
Brighten someone else's day.

Christian Evangelist

"Zebra to Flattop ... don't answer this call!"
The voice boomed out from the box on the wall.
The officers stiffened and froze in their places,
The shadow of tension etched on their faces.

"Keep radio silence, you don't want to be heard!"
Behind the young voice, a plane motor purred.
Zebra was out on a scouting flight,
Off to the north, and just out of sight.

"Enemy bombers coming in from the west ..."
The fates were playing a poorly-timed jest;
The carrier lay helpless in dim morning light;
Her fighters had taken off during the night.

"The bombers see me, but they don't see you.
If I come in, they'll find you, too ..."
The men up on deck were checking their guns,
Practicing following dive-bomber runs.

"They're waiting above, to follow me back,
Circling like vultures before they attack.
I'm taking a course to the north-northeast;
Should give you guys a chance, at least.
Yes, now they're turning to follow me;
I've two hours' gas; they must only have three ..."

High in the clouds a decision was made.
A debt was charged that can never be paid.
Out over the sea flew the single plane;
The box spoke out with his voice again;
Though weak with the distance, still it was clear;
It showed quiet courage, no tremor of fear:

"Please give my stuff to my buddy, Joe;
I'd like to pay him the money I owe.
I guess that's all there is to say,
The Skipper knows where to send my pay.
Oh ... tell Mom I knew what I was about ...
Zebra to Flattop, over and ... out."

University City Poetry Club, Fayetteville, AR

The paths of friends may part, they say,
But surely cross again,
As we go on from day to day
Along the paths of men.
And this I swear by all that's true:
When I return to sod,
I'll walk someday again with you,
Along the paths of God ...


Draw not in haste this sword
Whose fate may be;
To rend thy foe,
Thy friend,
And thee ...


A city during New Year
is a lurching, drunken woman;
A wanton she, devoid of pride,
though painted with vermillion.
She goes half-naked to the dance,
because she thinks it smart;
The giggling lushness of her form
is not a work of art.
She throws herself with lustful glee
into one night of "fun,"
But rises groaning, when at dawn,
the senseless rape is done.
I find no beauty in her,
this party-ravished city,
But in the cold light of the dawn,
I feel a lingering pity ...

"Link" Magazine

Oh, tempt me not, for I am weak;
I know not yet the things I seek.
I am confused, so helpless, blind,
And troubled by this state of mind:

All those around me seem to say,
"Shelter us, in every way ...
We want each day our daily bread,
We have a right to be so fed!"

To save themselves from any strife,
They cut all dreams out of their life.
So from the breast to grave they go:
Security is all they know.

This ease of living by the dole
Will feed my body, starve my soul.
"It's death," I hear my own voice say,
"To let myself stagnate this way."

Oh, let me face this human tide,
And may I not be turned aside
To drown in some mad whirlpool,
A safe, secure, but soul-less fool!


Security, the people cry ...
Security before we die.
Security while in the womb,
Security until the tomb.

Oh Earth, where are your stalwart sons
Who fought with clubs and spears and guns?
The ones who looked life in the face,
And dared to strive against the race.

The men who always whispered, "Go ..."
And went, although the race cried, "No!"
The masses always shouted, "Stay!"
But someone went to pave the way.

We need those now who love ease less
Than pride, and strength, and usefulness,
To fight against the sheltered life ...
Against ourselves, the greater strife.

Send down to us bold men, Oh Gods,
Who will not count the risk or odds,
To shake the sluggish race of men
From lethargy to life again.


These sounds I hear are part of me,
Each powerful refrain.
The subtle tones in minor key;
The sounds within a plane.

I hear the air beneath the wing
Go sliding swiftly by.
I hear the song the braces sing
That hold me in the sky.

The motor's drone is my own heart;
It throbs within my breast.
The slightest change will make me start;
Its smoothness is my rest.

The whistling wind whips past the floor;
I feel each strut and rod,
And softly whispering through the roar,
I hear the voice of God ...

Pease AFB "Viking"

I hear a sweet singing within me,
A song with a lovely refrain;
A warming and comforting music,
Sung over and over again.

The sight of you sets it to ringing,
It sings of the love in my heart;
It muses and whispers and murmurs
Whenever we must be apart.

It lifts with the tone of your laughter,
And tinkles like bright silver bells;
You whisper my name in the moonlight,
And louder the symphony swells.

We kiss and it leaps to crescendo;
It echoes the love in your eyes;
It seems it must burst from within me,
And shout itself out to the skies!

I love you! I love you! I love you!
The music explodes in my brain;
My darling, I'll love you forever!
It vibrates again and again.

It thunders and rolls for a moment,
And sings of how Heaven was meant;
Then slowly the music grows softer,
And sinks to the hymn of content.

Oh, there's a sweet singing within me,
A song with a lovely refrain;
A warming and comforting music,
Sung over and over again.

I hear it wherever I wander,
No matter whatever I do;
It's stirring and strumming within me:
The song that my heart sings to you ...


If I could have but one prayer answered,
I'd plead with all my heart and mind:
Oh Father, Father, teach me wisdom,
The blessed wisdom to be kind ...


I feel I'm being starved to death
By lack of simple things
I'd like to draw a quiet breath,
Or hear a song that sings.

We cover life with so much sauce
We never know its taste.
We scratch to win, and scream at loss,
Then shut our eyes to waste.

We scramble here, and there, and back;
A frantic, endless race.
We try to run this earthly track
At ever faster pace.

You poor, mad, foolish world of ours,
We made you what you are;
But how I thirst for quiet hours,
And time to watch a star ...


Ten thousand sons of Satan
Went riding on the earth;
Their laughter boomed like thunder;
They shouted out their mirth.

All day long they galloped;
They trotted through the night.
They charged and swirled and raced along,
And then rode out of sight.

Behind them lay a shambles;
Five hundred people dead.
"The season's worst tornado,"
Was what the paper said.


The mother earth rests for a moment
To draw her breath for the day;
The golden sun peeps shyly around
A hangar across the way.

In front of the barracks, a dozen cadets
Stand like strokes of the artist's pen.
An eternal moment while all is still,
And the earth is at peace with men.

Then off in the distance, a jet engine fires
And bellows its tortured wail.
Its sobbing scream rises and falls,
Then tries for the top of the scale.

The silence is shattered, the dawn has come,
The old earth wakes and flexes;
The cadets all turn and trot away ...
Just another hot day in Texas.

Pease AFB "Viking"

While brave pioneers are completely naive,
And Injuns close in for the kill,
You almost forget that it's all make-believe,
Until I show up over the hill.

When heroes must go to an awful grim fate
In seventeen hundred and two,
The costumes are fine, the illusion is great,
But there I am, up in the blue.

That's right, you just watch, I'll probably be
High over the rear of the set:
That crawling white trail is my bomber and me,
But I don't think they've noticed us yet ...

Pease AFB "Viking"

The biggest of all the big missions today:
(That's something like twenty this year...)
Perpetual Panic's the word-of-the-day:
(Let's break out a fresh case of beer ...)

We're all out of funds, so no flying suits:
(They're rotting some place on a shelf ...)
No plotters, no pencils, no watches or boots:
(I'll have to buy THAT stuff myself ...)

It's fifteen below and the snow-drifts are high:
(Our feet are so numb they don't hurt ...)
But NEXT week, we hope, we won't have to fly:
(We're pulling the Christmas alert ...)

So sorry, no transfer; we just lost our leave:
(Which makes the fourth year in a row ...)
That crash was the pilot's own fault, they believe:
(They'll say the same thing when I go ...)

The whistle may blow any moment at all:
(We'll likely be hit without warning ...)
There has to be someone to carry the ball:
(Ah hell, I'll re-up in the morning ...)


To the Devil's Inn went the thirteen Jinn,
To drink the Devil's rum.
They drank all night, but with the light,
They could not pay the sum.

The Devil said, "I'd strike you dead,
And take your souls for pay,
But I know full well no place in Hell
Would hold you for a day!

So up you go from the Pit below,
You'll drink my rum no more!
You'll gather souls to fill these holes,
Until you've paid the score!"

Kicked out of Hell too quick to tell,
The Jinn were mighty sad;
Each held a sack to carry back
The spirits of the bad.

The crop was ripe, so they couldn't gripe,
But darn! The things were small!
They'd work full bore for a month or more
To fill a sack at all!

Then one Jinn said, "I'm nearly dead.
Let's stop a bit to rest,
And plan some way to catch today
The spirits of the blest."

'Twas a grizzly night, with somber light,
And icy, pouring rain,
But they all sat 'round on the soggy ground,
And THOUGHT with might and main.

And just at dawn, when the storm was gone,
One hit the answer true:
"I certainly think, as a bottled drink,
We'd make a wicked brew!

'Tis sure from within we could make 'em sin,
And send 'em down Below.
The Devil would prize souls that size,
And likely let us go!"

So bottles they got, and quick as a shot,
Each one crawled inside,
While the Devil below, as he witnessed the show,
Scratched his smoking hide:

"Good deal," said he, "I'll have my fee ..."
Then he began to grin;
"When people make more, to keep up their store,
They'll have to have a Jinn!"

And so, you can see, as it came to be,
That's where they are today;
Those thirteen Jinn from the Devil's Inn,
They pay, and pay, and pay ...

And once a drunk from East Podunk,
Well on HIS way to Hell,
He peered within, and he SAW the Jinn.
Too bad he couldn't spell ...


Dictators, aggressors, wherever you are,
It's you we'd like to warn ...
The sunlight is shining on high bomber tails
At dawn this lovely morn,
And combat crews are waiting, ready ...
Ready for the horn.

To you who would scoff at our diplomat's words,
Think well, we say, think well ...
And never forget that each bomber will bring
A sample of fires from hell;
And combat crews are waiting, ready ...
Ready for the bell.

So when you decide to master this land,
Remember what we say ...
You'll not have the time to run nor to dig
Once bombers head your way,
And combat crews are waiting, ready ...
Ready for the day.

Pease AFB "Viking"

Here's to the Chief and his crew on the line,
And all of the specialists, too;
To the sentry who trudges his post in the snow
While his feet turn gun-metal blue.

A special salute to the men in the tower,
And out in the GCA shack;
To the handler who grins as he flags us in
While rain-water runs down his back.

We never forget the crash-alert crew
Who sprint to their waiting truck;
Tomorrow may hinge on the seconds they save
For fliers who run out of luck.

So here's to you all, who work through the night
To put our tin bird in the sky;
To all the skinned knuckles and frost-bitten ears
Your pay-checks alone could not buy ...

Whenever you stand and watch us blast off
And feel that you've been forgot ...
As a fellow whose neck depends on your skill,
I'd like to tell you ... you're not!

Pease AFB "Viking"

They call him the Aircraft Commander,
And the name is well applied,
For he carried the lives of his crew-mates
In his power to decide.

On the skill of his hands and his judgement
And the care he gives his art,
Is placed the success of the mission,
In each and every part.

From the computations for take-off
And the line-decision speeds,
To the nerve-grinding strain of refueling,
He's trained for what he needs ...

But when the red lights start to flicker,
And things are looking rough,
His training may not hold the answer,
And skill is not enough.

Then all that he has is the pattern,
Built up from day to day,
Of calm and responsible judgement,
To hold the fear away.

He knows a deep faith in his fellows,
Both near and far below;
Companions as close as his earphones,
Wherever he may go ...

Yet, however Fate's dice may be hurled,
Alone, he must decide;
For he is the Aircraft Commander,
And the name is well applied ...

Pease AFB "Viking"

Across the thoughts and deeds of men,
It's presence felt, and felt again,
A phantom rides the mist;
Alert and poised, its purpose clear,
Men watch in confidence or fear,
The mighty Armored Fist.

Its power weights the statesman's words,
It awes the peasants with their herds,
And strong-men at their play.
Atomic lightning in its grip,
It mounts a guard that must not slip,
From day to day to day.

But time will come when History's page,
While writing of this frantic age,
Will add just one line more:
"The Fist was set to hurl its blow,
But fragile humans held it so,
With spirits strained and sore."

The weeks roll on, the years creep by,
While fliers hold the weight on high
That grinds them down like grist.
Without the warrior's laurel wreath,
Unsung, they give their years beneath
The mighty Armored Fist ...

Pease AFB "Viking"

I paused within the narrow door,
Still blinded by the desert glare,
Inhaled the leather's dark perfume,
And sensed about me in the room
The peace that lingered there.

I rang the tiny service bell;
Then gazed about with mounting awe;
For these were not mere shapes of hide,
But handsome works of love and pride,
Each one without a flaw.

The loveliest was incomplete;
A great black saddle, set apart.
With hand-wrought silver flashing bright
Against the glossy leather night,
It owned no counterpart.

The aged craftsman soon returned,
With Spanish welcome warm and kind;
His face was etched by years of toil,
And though his eyes were black as oil,
I saw that he was blind.

We spoke of weather, dust and heat,
Of horse and saddle lore;
I asked how long the black would take.
"I must work slow," he said, "I make
But one a year, Señor ..."

I said, "I'll offer for that prize
A thousand dollars, when it's done."
His head held high, he smiled with pride,
"Oh no, Señor," the man replied,
"I give it to my son ..."


Some years ago, while still a child,
I saw a bonfire, leaping, wild,
Of cast-off Christmas trees;
And horrified by such a waste,
I fled the scene in tear-blind haste
To cry on Father's knees.

"My son," he said, "In times gone by,
Men sent their prayers to Gods on high
With living sacrifice;
And now, I think, these lovely things
Lift up our thanks on flaming wings
To pay that ancient price."

Tonight I watched another fire,
While twisting, blazing, ever higher,
Devour a broken plane.
I felt the waste of such a sight;
That three young men fell there tonight,
And will not rise again.

Then Father's words came ringing, clear;
"Men have not changed since yesteryear,
We are the same today;
While idly hoping wars will cease,
We bribe the Gods for shabby peace,
And this is how we pay!"

"Command" Magazine

I am a stranger here on earth,
My visit must be brief.
My task: to learn if men have changed
Since last I left in grief.

I will not take again the form
That shows me as a man,
But walk, unknown, among you,
The spirit that I am.

A query here, a question there,
A whisper in the night;
To find if men have learned the truth,
At last have gained their sight.

The simple truth that greed is sin,
And selflessness the way;
I ask you now if you have learned,
And only YOU may say.


Flat on his face in the old, dirty street,
A drunkard of Nazareth lay;
Covered with dust from the hurrying feet,
And scorched by the hot summer day.

The merchants and traders stepped wide and around;
An inn-keeper spat on his back;
But a carpenter came, and knelt on the ground;
Then lifted him up like a sack.

He carried the man to the shade of a gate,
And laid him down, gentle and slow.
Two priests who were standing near came to debate
To which part of Hell he would go.

The carpenter washed and sobered him there,
And sent him on home to his wife;
Then straightened, and turned on the scorn-ridden pair
A gaze that cut deep as a knife.

The words that he spoke reached out like a whip:
"You call yourselves children of God?
How then could you leave him for jackals to rip?
This was a man, not a clod!

He will not be stricken from Heaven's wide scroll
Because YOU have judged him to sin!
I tell you, no wine can rot a man's soul
Except that which comes from within!"

When the carpenter's eyes made the priests turn away,
He stooped down to gather his things;
"Our Father," he whispered, "Forgive them, I pray."
And something near rustled ... like wings ...


That beautiful, slumbering city ahead,
Her fog and snow blankets drawn tight,
Lies helpless and bare to the Cyclops eye
Of radar that pierces the night.

The patterns of light that glow on my scope
Are showing her structures of steel,
The webs of her roads and her winding canals;
I stare and the picture seems real ...

Too real it seems, for the eye of the mind
Soon sketches in all the details;
The houses with children asleep in their beds;
The church at the fork of the rails.

My hands and my eyes check the switches and dials
With no real thought on my part,
While aching regret, like an acid within,
Is etching itself on my heart.

But conflict of nations has only one end;
The weaker must surely be slain ...
I mean to insure, if one nation survives,
My children are those who remain.

I harbor no hatred to strengthen my will;
I fight for the ones I hold dear.
I re-check my aim, and then glance at a dial;
The city's last seconds seem near.

At last comes a click, and the bomb-release light;
I call, "Bomb's away," to the crew.
But fires of hell will not burst far below
To scatter their ravaging dew ...

For there is no bomb, no crew, and no plane;
No actual city below.
It's only a model, constructed of brass,
To teach what my target would show.

A long moment more, the illusion persists;
It might have been real today ...
I turn off the set with an unspoken prayer;
"Lord, may it not happen this way!"

Pease AFB "Viking"

Old Merlin was a wizard,
and Merlin was a sage,
And he was far the wisest
in good King Arthur's age;
But, bored with all his learning,
"Alas, alack," cried he;
"I'm sure some other era
would better challenge me."
And so, with all his cunning,
with chants, and words in rhyme,
With snakes and bats and candles,
he made the Door of Time.

He called his pupils to him;
"Now hear me well," he said;
"This Door can send me to the years
both back, and far ahead.
This very night, I'll wager,
you'll see me turn the page,
To find a time and kingdom
more suited to a sage."
So back he went to wizard work,
with signs and words galore;
He clamped his hat down on his head,
and vanished through the Door.

His pupils whispered with concern,
"He won't be back, we fear ..."
But, hat in hand and out of breath,
they saw him re-appear.
"Hush, now," he said, "I've seen the past,
and we can't go that way.
But one more spell, and like a flash,
I'll try a future day."
True to his word, with just one chant,
he whistled through the years;
Then, shortly, popped back home again,
frightened and in tears.

"Woe, ah, woe is me!" he cried;
"No place behind, before ..."
He chucked the charms and candles out
and then tore up his Door.
His pupils stood there, stricken;
their horror made them dumb;
Then Merlin turned and, sobbing, said,
"Come here, my children, come ..."
They sat around to hear his words;
and, with his head bowed low,
He said, "We'll live and die right here;
there's nowhere else to go."

"In fact, both past and future
are very much the same.
Both ways are filled with dragons
too hideous to name.
I've hid, and watched them moving,
huge bodies in the night,
With skins like burnished metal
and eyes of torches' light;
As long as twenty horses,
with lofty, armored tail,
They waddle slow and heavy;
they rumble, whine, and wail.

"And though they all were much alike,
I saw they'd changed a whit;
Those in the past preferred the mud;
they snarled, fought and bit;
While future dragons love flat rock
and walk on it alone;
(They also have a louder voice,
a bloody awful tone!)
Though I intend to stay right here,"
and Merlin heaved a sigh,
"I'd say the future's far the worse ...
the darned things learned to fly!"

Pease AFB "Viking"

Steady, mother, steady,
Your son is near and ready;
In moonlight's eerie glowing,
A silver eagle slowing,
Slowing to your speed ...

With eager, searching muzzle,
He edges close to nuzzle;
For he is thirsting, thirsting,
And you are filled to bursting
To satisfy his need ...

Now shortly, he is drinking,
Growing heavy, sinking;
While with your fuel draining,
Your engines throbbing, straining,
You wait to let him feed ...

Pease AFB "Viking"

"Ah, shut up and deal," the Co-pilot said,
And touched a fresh match to his pipe.
The Aircraft Commander nodded his head,
But Radar still kept up his gripe;

"Why in the deuce did it have to be us,
To get stuck for the Holidays?
It could have been Wilson, of Dowling, or Gus;
They haven't been on for days!"

He paused for a bit, and his knuckles went white,
Then he said as he let the cards fall,
"I guess if no one were stuck here tonight,
We might not have Christmas at all ..."


A true Valentine is a gift of love
That tells your beloved you care.
It may equally be
Expensive or free,
As long as the meaning is there.

We all see the obvious Valentines,
But, somehow, they soon disappear,
While everyday things,
When given Love's wings,
Bear witness to love through the year.

A freshly-pressed shirt is a Valentine,
And so is a mirror-bright floor.
The diet she tries
Or his favorite pies,
Are dearer than cards from a store.

A day at the beach is a Valentine;
Or steaks done his own special way.
His help with the kids,
And stubborn jar lids,
May tell more than orchids could say.

Though anything may be a Valentine,
If someone intends it to be,
The other must know
That it was meant so;
The art is in learning to see ...

"Pease and Ques" Pease AFB, NH

I would not go home to my family, Lord,
With a filthy, work-blackened hand,
Lest I impart to the children I love
An illness they cannot withstand.

And Father, I carry a deadlier plague,
Of hatreds and angers and fears;
All of the evils I've harbored today,
And problems too deep for their years.

My hands I can cleanse with the water and soap,
But only You launder a soul ...
Oh Father, let's scour this child of Thine,
That I may go home to them whole ...

"Command" Magazine

One gray and unfriendly morning,
The Padre went down to his door,
And found there a small baby crying,
Alone on the cold marble floor;
And pilled to his thin, shabby blanket,
A note by a poorly trained hand;
"Padre," it said, "Here's your baby,
Born by the Church's command.

You said that I mustn't prevent it,
Nor divorce the husband I hate,
But that the Good Shepherd would feed us,
Although I already have eight.
You said it is sin if I end it
By taking my miserable life;
All rules that were made by the Padres,
Who have neither children nor wife.

I thought I would look in the Bible,
And found out how, a long time ago,
They sometimes gave kids to Jehovah,
To learn what a Padre should know;
And though I'm sure that I'll miss him,
I think that it's better he stays ...
Since Padres want so many children,
I leave him for Padres to raise ..."


"Oh no, my son," the father said,
"No creature has a soul but man.
And even though one seems quite wise,
It's instinct guides it 'till it dies,
And then it's through; it's dead.

"Now, true, these dolphins seem as we;
They learn to play their simple games,
But they've no sense of wrong or right;
They have no love but food and fight;
They're only brutes, you see."

A derrick raised above the tank
A dolphin in a canvas sling;
And crippled by the long truck ride
That bruised and burned his tender hide,
He slipped, and fell, and sank.

The creature bordered close on death;
He could not move, he could not swim;
But strangers of his kind rushed there,
And buoyed his body up to where
He gasped and sobbed for breath.

Long moments passed ... by pairs, in turn,
The dolphins held their brother high.
"But Dad ..." the wide-eyed boy began ...
And softly, humbly, said the man,
"We still have much to learn ..."


As Sleep passed down his gentle hand
Across my weary eyes,
There flowed across the spirit-land
A peace no man may understand,
No matter how he tries.

And in a thought not wholly mine,
I phrased a silent prayer:
"Oh Father, hear this child of Thine;
Let now Thy Spirit cross the line,
For I am waiting there."

Outside the window, on the shed,
I heard a crackling sound.
"How odd," I thought, "No leaves are dead ..."
And then the sound came toward my bed!
I fought to turn around.

But terror gripped my body tight;
Black fear of things unknown ...
When, with a lurch, I sat upright,
I saw a hooded shape of light,
And heard a ringing tone:

"If I return, you then may see,
So, later, do not doubt!"
And for a cold eternity,
He stood there, looking down at me,
Then, like a light, went out.

In dark regret and aching shame,
I waited for the day ...
For, fool I am, I knew his name.
I called the Spirit, and he came,
But I would not obey ...

I must find my way to the runway of God,
Across this trackless sky;
So wherever I am, I sight on the Son,
And know what course to fly.

I measure His height over all earthly things
To see how well I stand,
For the higher I mark Him, the nearer I am
To where I hope to land.

Until I have fixed the Son overhead,
In values of my soul,
I'll cling to my sextant, the Bible, in faith,
And press on toward my goal.

I, too, seek the runway where spirits may rest,
But I have far to go ...
Here, Son has not risen; my world is dark,
And fuel is running low.

But He who has launched me is not absent here,
Beyond the light of day;
By searching for guidance from each little star,
I, too, may find the way.

The skill I must learn is that no star alone
Will lead me through the night;
For only be searching, comparing, and weighing,
May I, at last, see light ...

"Command" Magazine

The temple I dwell in this moment
Has changed since it was small;
The myriad cells that compose it
Are not the same at all.

They constantly wither and perish,
While I, myself, remain.
My temple has been reconstructed
Time and time again.

Just so when this temple lies ruined,
My soul is still not through,
But will gather the dust and the atoms
To build again, anew ...


He who first lays anger's sword
Back upon its shelf,
Is master of the conflict,
His adversary,
And himself.


Who drinks the gall of sacrifice
To spare another grief
Will find the aftertaste
Is sweet
Beyond belief ...


While we believe in love
And playing fair,
We have found our neighbor is
A huge


"Here," said the comrades, "Is our creed:
The more you make,
The more we take ...
(To give to those in need.)"

But people found the easy way:
"The more we set,
The more we get ...
Let's goof off every day!"


Who blindly owns his fathers' faith
And never looks beyond,
Fashions for his spirit
A deadly


If any faith is perfect,
As many doctrines claim,
Then God must damn the others,
Who also bear His name ...
And, fool I am, it seems to me,
How petty, childish, God would be
To say to those who love Him well,
"Surprise, old boy, you go to Hell!"


The Joshua tree on the mountain
gripped sky in his ancient fist
and smiled.
Below, in the valley,
a pale golden butterfly,
like the bright laughter of sunlight,
was kissing the orange blossoms.

He watched as she danced
in mesmerized rapture
to the red fly-trap jaws ...
then twisted his gaze to the distance
and wept ...

For the valley was empty of sunlight,
and the mountain suddenly cold ...


The ocean flowed on with its ebb and swell,
In the cold afterglow of the fires from hell,
But the mad parasite was gone from the earth,
To ravage no more the sphere of his birth ...
He would not heed warnings that madness must cease,
So on the EIGHTH day, God gave the earth ...


To all His sons, our Father gives
This lovely earth; and all that lives
Is subject to our hand ...
The crystal sea, the rock, the air,
The plants and animals are there
For us, by His command ...

Yet how we use these gifts of love!
We foul the seas, the skies above;
We burn the trees and rob the soil;
We slaughter creatures without need;
We rape the earth from pure greed,
And curse it as we toil ...

But laws of God make recompense,
And nature has its own defense
To heal infested sores ...
The greedy parasite is faced
With rotting in its self-made waste,
As dead as dinosaurs ...


A day in the life of an Air Force wife
Is filled to the brim with surprises,
And if any should, by some chance, be good,
They stand out by contrast, as prizes!

She reaches at dawn for her husband who's gone;
Gets an armful of pillow instead ...
Half dressed, half awake, she has breakfast to make
For the small-fry she drags out of bed.

In the mad whirlpool as the kids leave for school
Like great flocks of birds taking flight,
She tries not to think of the china-filled sink
Left after the party last night.

The howling of scores of urchins outdoors
Serenades her all through the day,
While cars out of gas and jungles of grass
Provide exercise on the way.

She hauls loads of tots to the clinic for shots;
Fills paper-work out by the reams;
The doctor says then, "You're pregnant again,"
And can't understand why she screams.

The telephone rings for committees and things
She's tried for a month to forget;
She presses a sleeve and attempts to believe
She may make the hair-dresser's yet.

She answers a call and tries not to bawl
To hear of another leave lost ...
Ten bills in the mail can clobber the tale
That income is greater than cost.

Then home come the scholars with shattering hollers
To wreck the clean house in a wink;
The things they can do to the floor with a shoe
Would even drive preachers to drink.

A peck on the cheek, the first time in a week,
And in clomps the family's star boarder;
And though they are glad to welcome their Dad,
Introductions would be more in order.

He's chock-full of news that gives her the blues;
Of all of the Air Force commotion:
A man that got hurt ... TDY ... and Alert ...
Passed over again for promotion.

His feet on a chair while the TV fights blare,
He orders another cold beer ...
The kids start to shrill and she's certain she will
Depart for the nut-hatch this year.

Then with the brood fed and dumped into bed,
She gets her big thrill for the day:
"Oh say, there's a chance we may get to a dance,
Sometime between August and May ..."

"Pease and Ques" Pease AFB, NH

Cannon shells exploding in the old plane's guts ...
The insistent urging of the bail-out bell ...
Mac jumping the open hatch
to seek his parachute ...
The lurch of the dying plane
that sent the shrieking hole
reaching up for him ...
The instant he hung suspended in space,
surprise in deep black eyes ...
My desperate hand grazing his ...
A smile,
"Nice try, Bud ..."
and he was gone.

University City Poetry Club, Fayetteville, AR

Peace be with you,
my long, lean brother
with the diamond coat
and golden eye.

I have no quarrel with you,
save whether this patch of sand
is a path for my feet
or a bed for your afternoon nap.

We are ancient enemies,
you and I,
and with my rifle,
I hold the advantage.

Yet I cannot help wondering
what you would do
if you came by
and found me sleeping.

Would you attack and destroy me
because of the war
between our races?
I think not ...

You would kill only to eat,
or to escape,
by the law of the One
who is Father to us both.

And were I to disturb your rest,
you would coil for defense,
but would not even then
strike without warning.

Sleep in peace, my brother,
I cannot bring myself
to be less a man
than you are ...


A prophet was walking in starlight
And met a young wife at the well.
She sobbed out her heart in the starlight,
And wept with her shame in the starlight,
Confessed she had sinned in the starlight,
And knew she was destined for hell.

She said she had pleaded for pardon
Because she dishonored her bed.
Her husband declared he would pardon,
The Padre had offered God's pardon,
But she, for herself, had no pardon,
And wished in her heart she were dead.

The prophet cut down from a willow
A rod that was limber and thin.
He beat the young wife with the willow,
Left stripes on her back with the willow;
She cried with the pain of the willow,
But felt that it paid for her sin.

The people put chains on the prophet,
They cursed him as evil and vile.
They clamped wooded stocks on the prophet,
And spat on the face of the prophet;
They threw rotten fruit at the prophet,
And thought him insane for his smile ...


"Oh, bah!" said the merchant,
"Don't quote me that drool!
You show me a poet;
I'll show you a fool!"

"How true!" laughed the dreamer,
"A very good rule!
For you see the poet,
And I see the fool!"


There was a young sayer of sooth,
Who spoke not a word but the truth.
His fellows said, "Why
Don't you learn how to lie,
And live to grow out of your youth?"


Here's a thing you'll notice
No matter where you go:
The "Upper Crust" is a bunch of crumbs
Held together by their dough ...


We must not take pride in good fortune,
Or Fate's most benevolent whim,
For fortune may sink from beneath us
Without having taught us to swim ...


Not by passion's blaze alone
This deeper, sweeter love is known;
For gold we wove on Time's swift loom
Is mirrored on your face,
As, far across a crowded room,
Our eyes meet ... and embrace.


Love is like a mountain stream
That winter never freezes,
So long as it is flowing free
And laughing as it pleases.

But if we would imprison love
In selfish dams we make,
We find it soon lies dark and grim
As any frozen lake.


Old Will led the goose by a tether
And carried his axe in his hand,
When both of them stopped and looked upward
At the sound of a wild goose band.

The free ones came shouting, rejoicing;
The tame goose attempted to fly;
But wings that were clipped would not lift him,
And he gave out a heart-broken cry.

To Will, in a flash of remembrance,
Came pictures of skies that were wide;
Of rotary engines, and fabric,
And the thrill of his first solo ride.

They stood there a long moment, watching;
Two spirits that thirsted for flight ...
Will quietly laid down the tether,
And his family had pancakes that night.

University City Poetry Club, Fayetteville, AR

The candles wove gold through her soft auburn hair,
Made diamonds of tears in her eyes;
A sob broke her voice as she fell to her knees;
"Oh, Father," she whispered, "Pray for me, please,
Though I know I'm not worthy of prayer."

"What is it, my child, that you could have done,
To merit such scorn for yourself?"
Her shame weighted down her lovely young head.
"I slept with a man for his money," she said,
"I've sinned against God and His Son!"

Behind the dark veil, in dim glowing light,
The hooded shape gave a great sigh.
"Sweet daughter, whose laws have you broken this way;
The laws of the Lord, or the laws of the day,
Which men have decreed to be right?

"The Lord does not judge as do sons of men.
He values the spirit alone.
And this is the lesson all men have to learn;
The carcass does not hold our Father's concern,
For dead clay does not rise again.

"We each are a soul that never will die,
Although we are born many times.
What worth have these houses in which we now live?
This mind and this muscle is what we all give
For that which our labor will buy.

"If passion for money has been your deed's goal,
That passion will bind as a chain.
If you sold but your body from hunger and need,
And sold not your spirit to lust and to greed,
How then can the act harm your soul?

"But let him beware whose spirit is slave
To anything here on the earth;
Near that which enslaves him, his spirit will stay,
While souls that are free are off on their way
To lives that come after the grave!"

The girl raised her head and was startled to see
The halo that shone through the veil;
"I do not accuse you, to add to your pain,
And prayer for forgiveness is not made in vain,
For sorrow is penance to me."

The light faded out and was gone without trace.
It left the booth empty and dark.
As the priest came from lunch, she brushed past his hand,
And he watched as she left, but could not understand
The light that he saw on her face ...


The Archer stands
Before his home,
His mighty bow full drawn,
To slay the bear
That kills his sons
And eats them on the lawn;
But children hid
Behind his back
In fear-filled voices say,
"Oh Archer, wait,
Don't make it mad,
It might just go away ..."

University City Poetry Club, Fayetteville, AR

The children are starving in China,
And spitting on priests in Tibet;
They grow up in communes in Russia,
The family is shattered in Russia,
And God is forgotten in Russia,
For children are taught to forget.

The children learn hatred in Cuba,
According to Communist lines;
And "Peace" is a mockery in Russia,
And honor is laughed at in Russia,
And truth has no value in Russia:
It gets people sent to the mines.

These children have lost for a lifetime
The spiritual treasure of man;
Their heritage stolen by Russia,
Denied them by teachings of Russia,
And lost to the future if Russia
Succeeds in her obvious plan.

If such is your wish for your children,
Then, Pacifist, go right ahead:
Surrender the future to Russia,
Deliver all children to Russia,
And they will learn hatred from Russia
Long after your teachings are dead.


Somewhere in the long, sweet dreams
of the half-remembered,
Somewhere beyond the shifting, rippling veil
of time gone by,
Somewhere ... somewhere ...

The Firebird calls ...

She calls from the sensuous laughter
of crystal streams;
From the lips of unknown singers.
She whispers through the swirling mist of the fever,
And smiles, and beckons, in the leaping flames
of my lonely fire ...

I see her in the glowing eyes of the maidens;
Her hair in the dance of the falling leaves.
I sense her caress in the sighing wind,
The warmth of her lips in the kiss of the sun ...

And ever this yearning, this aching within me,
Cries out for the sweet Firebird,
My sweet Firebird ...
Who lives beyond the veil ...


O children, children, look and see
Why I hang upon this tree ...
I am no mystic offering,
But in this moment, conquering,
That you may be set free!

Look up and see! I show you here
That we need not be slaves of fear!
All fear is born in fear of death:
Sell not your souls for love of breath,
When freedom lies so near!

They cannot bind me to this pain.
They scourge, and nail, and spit in vain!
Look now! These wounds but slowly kill;
Yet, in a moment, by my will,
I choose to break the chain!

Look up and learn! I die to show
The path, through death, where spirits go.
This once, I enter not the womb,
But raise the same flesh from the tomb,
That you may see, and know!

Look up, O children! Look, each one!
Remember, you are each God's son.
What I have done, you also may:
My purpose was to point the way ...
And now ... at last ... 'tis done!


Who savours every taste of life,
And never lets one pass,
Will ever find before his lips
A rich
And brimming

While he who shuns the greater part,
And spits it from his mouth,
Will choke to death upon the dust
Of his


Free man, walk your way in peace,
Erect and unafraid.
The ancient price
To keep you so
Has been
And shall be
Paid ...

Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, NH

Impatient, restless waters,
Clutching at the shore;
Your breakers clawing, grasping,
Like frantic fingers clasping,
Forever fall back gasping,
From the moon that you adore ...

Our day is coming, Ocean!
Rest behind your bars;
For my whole bloodstream's churning
With your tide of ancient yearning,
And with the dawn's returning,
I will take you to the stars ...


born: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 1934
to Herbert E. Swett, attorney,
and Marcia (Fadner) Swett

grade schools: Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas
high school: Pasadena, Texas, 1951
university: Arkansas, B.A., 1955

married: Wyneth June Haskins,
(B.A., Arkansas, 1954)
Ponca City, Oklahoma, 1955

Scott Lawrence, 1957
Bruce Alan, 1959

Civil Air Patrol, 1952-1955
Private pilot's license, 1953
2/Lt., U. S. Air Force Reserve,
active duty, 1955

Captain, Regular Air Force, 1961
B-47 Select Crew,
509th Bombardment Wing,
Strategic Air Command,
Pease A.F. Base, New Hampshire

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