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Prairie Flyer – Part VII

Prairie Flyer – Part VII

“Wreckage of a small bi-plane was discovered today
strewn ‘cross a field over Ogallala way
in what appears to be a weather-related mishap,”
the radio blared out through the static flap
making it hard to distinguish the details.

The venison stew was steaming in bowls on the bar top
as Harley reached for the crackers, that he proceeded to drop
hitting them on the cupboard door then groaning as he picked them up
as I headed toward the window to the sound of a wolf pup
but it was nothing but the billy goat sounding like one.

“Searchers at the crash site, up in Nebraska, say a yellow plane
hit a windmill, presumably in the driving snow, that came
out of nowhere to surprise everyone in the region yesterday,”
the KCMO station continued to report as Harley and I made our way
to the counter bar and the great smelling stew.

“The fatality is Catherine “Star” Lovecampe from Oswego, Ohio,”
the broadcast continued through the static as it gave her part-bio
as we both sat in silence…. listening the best we could
to the little white Philco radio that looked like it had hit the floor’s wood
many times and was just trying to hang on.

In our shock we reminisced the brief moments we shared with her
and how her ‘freshness’ illuminated the room and belied the temperature
of the outside briskness and how nice it was to see a woman flyer
light down on this little airstrip with gusto that was like a trip wire
that mesmerized the both of us in a very enchanting way.

Her brief appearance, in our lives, served notice to us both
about space and time and how important sharing is…. in the growth
of our life cycles that are different when we’re alone
and Harley set a bowl for Star on the counter, by his own,
and we talked how she would’ve loved that stew….and we felt better.

© t. j. gargano 2013

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Prairie Flyer – Part VI

Prairie Flyer – VI

By morning, Kansas’ sunflowers were barely peeking through the snow
and a hearty Kansas’ blackbird, bigger than a carrion crow,
was finding it tough to find some food….waddling close by Harley’s goat,
that Harley had let out about 4:30 ‘cause I heard him clear his throat
as he tussled with the stuck door.

“Looks like I’m here a while,” I said to Harley’s back
who nodded and smiled and took up the bacon and put it on a rack
and poured me more coffee…”Glad to have you here, Jake.
How do you want those eggs?  I’ve got some biscuits ready to bake..
Has the radio said much about the storm?”

“They say it hit from Utah to the Cumberland Plateau;
a lot of outages and people stranded, as far as they know,”
I told him as we tightened our boots, getting ready to go outside
to gas up the John Deere plow……to push some snow aside,
that is…. after eating our eggs and drinking another cup.

By late afternoon, Harley’s airstrip was done
and Sarah Jane was now ready for the gatling gun
that I would re-mount before leaving for the trip back home
in the morning if it wasn’t windy, I thought, as my comb
stung my head…. sticking in the matted hair.

The shower made me sleepy and I was afraid that if I sat,
the searing heat from the fireplace would see to it…. that….
I would fall asleep too soon and Harley would let me sleep
and his venison stew was smelling good so I got a broom to sweep
and it was then that we heard the first report.

(continued – Prairie Flyer – VII

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Prairie Flyer – Part V

Prairie Flyer – V

The two-winger glistened in the afternoon sun.
The wind made the fifty degree November day…. shun
“I know you’re experienced but the cross winds aren’t kind,”
Harley continued as we walked, “just bear that in mind
when you angle to the north.”

She shook our hands tightly and lastly came the hug
then climbed the wing swiftly to the cockpit; turned the plug.
She gave us both a smile as she pulled her goggles down
then a thumbs up and a wave…. as she brought it back around
and paused it on the dirt strip for final check.

We watched her climb to the western sky
‘til the stars on the wings disappeared to our eye
and we said a few words how it was nice that she had come
and how we all felt comfortable…and the feeling made us numb
and the silence in our walk…. we couldn’t hide.

As Kansas weather goes, Kansas weather came.
And for the evening snow that fell, it was a Montana low to blame.
That’s the best we could hear, through all the radio’s static
and the sad thing, we were use to it – it was sort of systematic –
and we talked no more of her.

(continued Prairie Flyer VI)

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Prairie Flyer – Part IV

Prairie Flyer – Part IV

“Help yourself to the beans, I’ll fuel up your plane.”
he said, grabbing his jacket and the sack with the chain….
the chain for  the billy goat  who he’s kept for a while
and who’s been his companion and made it worthwhile
when there’s been no one else around .

“It’s been a while,” I said, “since a woman’s landed here.
Don’t see many women flyers in these parts since we’re
off the paths of the mail routes, changed a few years back.
In fact, don’t see many flyers at all, being off the beaten track;
just a few oldsters fly-in…. now and then.”

“It’s Jake, right?” she asked, as she got up off the stool
and went behind the counter bar looking for a tool
to scoop up some of Harley’s beans and some of the hot fresh bread
and the sight of both of them next to me, had me seeing red
and my stomach made its first ‘growl.’

“Yeah, Jake.” I whimpered, escaping my temporary insanity,
obviously caused by my proximity to this aberration of humanity,
and she talked and talked, intruding kindly on my soul
and all the while I smiled and listened….having lost control
of my senses by this compromising force.

The next thing I knew, Harley said….”it’s fueled and ready to go”
and her hair was under cap ‘cept  some bangs that sat below
her goggles on her head that were definitely showing some wear
and she threw the white scarf  ‘round her neck and made it hard to bear
as we walked her to the plane.

(continued  Prairie Flyer – Part V)

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Prairie Flyer – III

Prairie Flyer – Part III

Harley turns sharply, downs the towel, grabs his beer
saying ‘Hi’ to the lady in his jovial ‘gear’
and. I, too, have risen….”hi, I’m Jake.” I say
as we grab for her jacket in a dizzying way
and she smiles….illuminating all the room.

Now Harley, being Harley, with his humor, sometimes crude,
in a smile says ‘nice boots’ and I look for a changing mood
but she thanks him graciously and continues to scan the room
and joins me at the counter bar as Harley grabs a broom
and she could hold the thought no more, “Are the beans done yet?”

“Almost, ma’am, maybe a stir or two,” Harley quips,
“Where ya headed?’ he asks, bringing the beer to his lips.
“I’m headed over Ogallala way, up in Keith County,
for one last show before winter….a show for Elga Browney.
Do you know her, Harley?”

“I’ve heard the name,” Harley says, sitting the beer on the bar.
Then leaving for the girls’ room, she says.…”by the way, my name is Star.”
as I remember, now,  the star on her scarf, caught against the wing
that almost got away from her…. before the final fling
from the wind…. that returned it to her arms.

(continue Prairie Flyer – Part IV

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Prairie Flyer – Part II

Prairie Flyer –  Part II

Then as I turned toward the counter’s bar,
the pilot started down and I noticed the star
on the scarf that the wind had placed on the wing
and getting it….the pilot was trying everything
but the wind, it seemed, was winning.

Then what I saw was hard to believe
as she stepped from the cockpit and tugged at her sleeve
taking off her cap….her hair falling down….
in long strands of blond, nearly touching the ground….
the white scarf flew wildly to her hands.

Gripped tight by pause, my eyes fixed in fear,
I awaken from my stupor from the feel of cold beer
that’s spilled on my hands as I head for my seat
at the counter in the back of the room…. where the heat
will feel good when she comes through the door.

I look towards where Harley is tending his beans,
stirring them vigorously…. some reaching his jeans….
the stove plates glowing brightly in oranges and red
as the wind wails and whistles at the smell of fresh bread
then it’s gone… the door opens….”Hi, guys.”

(to be continued….Part III)

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Prairie Flyer – Part I

Prairie Flyer – Part I

I saw it below, through the clouds, on the ground;
a speck in the dust, it was kicking around
making its way towards the hangar at the end
of the airstrip of dirt where soon I’d descend;
my trip back home…. nearly done.

I took off from Galesburg in a bright morning sun
in a brisk wind that rattled the old Gatling gun
for I’d flown out east…. to buy it for a friend
who wanted it for the museum…. and those who attend,
for an exhibit how air battles were won.

The yellow two-winger was just sitting there
as my wheels touched down in the brisk Kansas air.
It’s an obscure little stop for fuel and some rest
and not known by many….maybe a barnstormer, at best;
but I had stopped here….before.

But I didn’t know the plane sitting bright against the sky
and probably not the pilot, who I just taxied by,
as I headed for the ‘shack’ for some coffee and some fuel
and a chat with the Kansan….  Harley P.  O’Toole
and I yelled at him, “Hey, sunflower!” entering the door.

“Who’s flying the yellow bird sitting on the tarp?
I queried of Harley, who’s, when sleepy, not sharp.
But who is, I’m thinking, as I take off my coat
“Just landed,” he said, pulling hard on the rope
the Billy goat not wanting to go out.

“How you been, Jake?” he said with a hug.
“It’s been quite a spell,” as he gave me a mug….
the beer not as cold as I thought it would be
as I went to the window to see what I’d see
the pilot still sitting in his seat.

The ‘hangar’ was all ol’ Harley ever had
a one-floor oasis, a gift from his dad,
who was famous in these parts – a barnstormer’s friend,
and they all showed up to honor him….at the final end
and ever since, Harley’s picked up the beat.

Three hundred miles from Kansas City’s lights
the hangar was like home when dropping from the heights
And the stories of Harley were true…. that made his legend grow
and brought in flyers from all the states…. just like a minstrel show
but the bi-plane on the tarp, he didn’t know.

(to be continued….Part II)

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