The fires of the past




48th Anniversary of the Apollo fire

remembered in verse

Perfect vision

Nothing happening outside the window,
the launch window long closed
let’s recall this day from 48 years ago.
I’ll give it all I remember. It was a Friday,
I know, the school week over,
The Weekly Reader tucked away with the books
carrying a picture of the first Apollo crew
to fly soon, perhaps less than a month
which seemed forever.
Color TV new to us,
Uncle George and Aunt Kate
came to watch the jungle colors unfold,
Tarzan starring Ron Ely at 8 p.m.
and left. Shortly after,
the first bullets cut the screen,
news bulletens always bringing a shock
black & white memory of November 1963.
There has been been a fire at Cape Kennedy.
Why are they cutting in for that?
I wondered as time paused and the mind raced
thinking that an unmanned rocket had exploded.
No, there has been a fire in the Apollo spacecraft,
no details, but rumors say the crew,
either the prime or backup, killed.
Turning the tumbling channels
landing on CBS in mid-sentence carrying
a different rumor, that at least one
of the prime crew was killed.
Putting the two together,
I figured the prime crew,
commanded by my hero,
Gus Grissom, veteran of Mercury and Gemini,
was dead. Soon the words
forever fused to that evening
began their litany of
plugs-out test, pure oxygen, flash
fire, multiple hatches,
and of course one lie to ease the moment,
that they died instantly.
The fire, the lost moon waning,
the sorrow, did not stop me
from dreaming of being an astronaut
What washed me out occurred shortly after
when I had my eyes tested and got glasses.
To go to the moon, you need perfect vision.


Box of accidents

Tired of this box of accidents
why would I bequeith it to you?
The Apollo fire one day, the Challenger disaster the next,
Columbia buring up a few days later.
all the birds pecking at the feeder
empty since my father died have a hole in their wing.
Why would I carry this box along,
no wheels, it takes up my arms
which might wave at you
to stop and chat about the mountains of Mars,
ice fountains on the moons of Saturn
or the mysterious white spot on Ceres.
Something sticky leaking out of the bottom,
the box sagging against my cocked knee
I ought to just drop it instead of trudging on
to the next disaster.

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