Against the violet sky my Piper Saratoga
banks and shifts, a paltry sparrow
lost in the expanding gloom.
Dimmed in a room below me,
the radar on the Island Airport
circumnavigates the darkness.
Its luminescent arm swings a clockwise
arc across its screen, and pings
the rumor of my existence, up above.

Last month, I stood beneath the wash
of the rainshower, the buzzing of your
Philips razor mixing with the water’s hiss –
love’s wondrous morning ritual,
familiar as coffee, comfortable,
soapy, serene – when I found it.
Two fingers retracing open circles from the
areola, ranging in spirals across soft
tissue, outward like a radar’s sweep.

Like a malign backscatter off my
startled fingertips, a sudden thickening,
unaccustomed, beneath the surface. There.
Two weeks later, at my call-back diagnostic
screening, the radiologist scanned the bright
Nazca lines of my mammograms.
Aerial maps, pinpointing my pain, this
purgatory between parallel plates,
compressing my world, again, again.

Last week, a stereotactic biopsy,
a geologic intrusion into the core,
an aftertremor shattering my broken world.
140 knots, 5000 feet. Rain falls,
the wind shifts, and my aircraft’s wings
drop suddenly on a power-on stall.
If I chose silence, I could ease up,
let the winds wash over these
pallid wings as I fall.

I could close my eyes, let gravity’s distant
wavelength uncoil, and draw this shell
into its tethered, unrelenting pull.
But here, in the momentary silence
of this spin, my heart’s radar reaches out,
probing hope’s dim cavern –
pings the summer of our daughter’s graduation;
pings a showering of rice at her wedding;
pings our grandson’s wavering first steps;

pings him scoring in his first home game;
pings us on the shore at Orchid Beach;
pings you holding me crying in the shower,
that first day, love, as if you’d never let me go;
pings this life, this fragile, precious life –
And I must draw my strength into my hands, haul
resolution’s ailerons back, back – until the curve
is righted, and the wind is stilled, and the
airfield markers part the darkness into stars.


  1. Short link - http://bit.ly/s4radar

  2. Holy holy holy -- this is a stunning poem, to savor over and over. I want to be list in the words, like "paltry sparrow" but am unwilling drawn into the sorrowing heart, then pulled into the "falling" images but rising gravity of the moment -- then those specific moments become my own. So well-crafted, bringing me in gradually and with precision

  3. Speechless and in tears

  4. This is unforgettable prose. You're just magnificent in your talent.

  5. Of all your pieces that I've read, this is my favorite so far. I was like an atom being drawn into a black hole....Awesome writing.

  6. The use of avionics and medical terminology within so committed a statement of love shouldn't work, but it does and triumphantly. This is a deeply passionate but masterfully controlled piece of writing, rich and rewarding.

  7. Beyond the poetry, which as always, is amazing... reaching into a place so unfamiliar and finding such true emotion is unbelievable. As someone who has had a "scare," with different results, I can swear to the truth here. Damn, Sam...

  8. Words worth celebrating...a poem "fragile and precious" gift.

  9. Anonymous8:21:00 PM

    Your lines soar with emotion. Perfect amount of alliteration; building to the harrowing repetition of pings opening the floodgates to precious memories. Multilayered and expressed beautifully.

  10. whew...you took us far and wide in this one...from the plane...to the intimate moment to the flash of memories...this is a great write man...filled with emotion...

  11. Anonymous11:19:00 PM

    this is brilliant and heart-breaking, bold and brave and absolutely stunning. I'm in awe...

  12. My complements to you. But then again you are walking on the razor's edge. What hangs in the balance? Your descriptive genius and the lacerated heart, now must merge to become the warrior poet, describing the carnage of the war zone and the bravery of this solitary soldier who confronts death. How are we to know unless you tell us?

    Respect--Tiger Windwalker

  13. no this i doth my cap too....pete

  14. Wonderful, masterful-effect work. No nits, just admiration.

  15. well crafted piece. Beautiful!

  16. Beautiful poem, Samuel. Perhaps a bit heavy toward the end on the repetition of the pings, but still very revealing of your mastery of your craft. Visit me! xxxj

  17. Goood LORD!! What a read!! Sad, and yet so hopeful... I am rendered speechless with this one, my friend...
    Simply put, it's BRILLIANT!!! A masterpiece! A rendition of sadness, of utter disbelief, of silent cries, of faint glimmers of hope, of memories...

    And yes, I HOPE it's fiction...

    HATS OFF to you on this quality writing, my friend!!

  18. the ping of the radar is very effective - reaching right into my heart..

  19. I admire your attention to detail in all areas, taking us in my building a world and in that world building and raising the tension all the way to the end. Masterful. Gay

  20. Sorry can't type or something tonight - should be "by building"

  21. A powerful post with varied emotions and at the end a full flash of life at the end of the same.. lovely.. I got hooked from your words...
    'arc across its screen, and pings
    the rumor of my existence, up above.'

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter @VerseEveryDay

  22. vivid imagery..
    lovely job.

  23. As always Sam, your words transcend mere Craft and soar into Art, sweeping the mundane into glittering bits of life. You are one of my poetic heroes.


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