Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner - Randall Jarrell

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

The best way I can paraphrase this poem is, "After my mother's death, I joined the army.  I was in the ball turret, six miles up, freezing cold.  I woke, as if from a nightmare, and was killed by enemy fire."  The last line can stand as it is.  It's a truly horrifying account of war, delivered with a sardonically humorous twist at the end.  You never think about the viscera cleanup that must come with war.

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