Cowboys and War by Larry R. Fry

41o2pkns6wl._sx331_bo1204203200_

Cowboys and War (CreateSpace, 64 pp., $15, paper) is a poetry collection written by Larry R. Fry, who served as in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam in 1962-63. The poems are written from the point of view—and in the voice of—USAF Lt. Gary Bishop Deale. Lt. Deale also is a protagonist in Delta Sierra, Fry’s companion novel which tells the story of Deale’s Vietnam War tour of duty as an F-105D Thunderchief fighter pilot.

The poems in Cowboys and War deal with Deale’s thoughts about the war, as well as his hopes, what was accomplished by the missions he flew, and how he and his fellow pilots coped with the frustrations of combat flying—as well as how they coped with the every-day stress.

When Deale is in Thailand, his wife remains in North Carolina. A major part of the book involves Deale’s thoughts about her and about their marriage.

This small book contains fewer than two dozen poems. They are rarely longer than one page and are often much smaller than that. They are powerful and pack a punch much greater than their size.

Here’s “Pickle the Load,” an example of the fine poetic art in this collection. It was written on June 30, 1967, which happened to be my 25th birthday.

 

Pickle the Load

Rolling

His plane

Upright

Following smoke trails.

Stooping

Down the chute

Like

A bad-assed bird.

Flaming

Telephone poles

Blast

By seeking death.

Drifting

Off target then

Centering

His pipper true.

Punching

His red button

Pickling

The bomb load.

Flashing,

Six orange bursts

Explode

Behind and below.

Slashing

Hot iron shards

Shred

Life from limb.

Thanks to Larry R. Fry—a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America—for this inadvertent birthday poem.

—David Willson

Advertisements