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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

Death by Plummeting
David Lockyer 2012

Despite the heights they reached, aircraft ceilings and higher

They must have felt low, dispirited

Unwillingly parachuted from some love affair

Its shrapnel still burning.

So many better things to do… like living.

Yet not one of them wanted to die


Holding onto good luck charm

Superstitious routine firmly in place

Some tenderly retained token… never left behind

Something always touched or worn.

But no premonition foretold finality, only coincidence

And never saved by prayer nor fancy, only by survival.


Yet not one of them wanted to die

Not how they died: young, yearning, wasted in futility.

Fear, terror, resentment, blazing anger  

As plane, existence, fell apart… disintegrated

Or fell in slow plummet

Dice, cards, roulette wheel, straws, falling with them:


Tracer dice, cannon shell Russian roulette,

ME109 card cut, engine failure short straw;

Deadliest disinterested games off chance

All so random, so happenstance and indifferent.

Do not believe those lies of instantaneous

‘It was quick.’ ‘They never felt a thing.’


All that was lively… burning.

All that was loving… utterly alone.

All that was vital… shadow to insanity.

And in the wreckage, what enduring remains,

What vulnerable human ruins refusing to be frail?


Submitted to Aircrew Remembered by David Lockyer. David holds the copyright and permission must be sought to reprint, thank you.

Death by Plummeting

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 • Last Modified: 26 May 2014, 08:07