Mary Harwell Sayler


They’re coming in. They’re coming in!
Our ground crew, scrambling, counts the planes –
damaged, downed, or coughing in –
to see what might be patched again
or used as parts for other planes.
The metal, stretched as thin as skin,
peels back as gunfire pings like rain
that keeps on coming – coming in
and punching holes the size of pins
or gaps that flap into the wind.
Flying in our “Flying Coffin,”
there’s half a chance at coming in,
but half of taking off again
to fly farther than other planes
with bigger bombs and better aims
at making enemies give in
with one stunned cry, “They’re coming in!”

From the chapbook: “Winning the Wars”
All rights reserved; used with poet’s permission