Word Play – A Glosa

“The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.”

(from Casabianca by Mrs. Felicia Dorothea Hemans)

My earliest poetic influence       my father
used to recite limericks tell risqué jokes
much to my mother’s dismay
she didn’t like the sound
of daughter exclaiming     asking for more
if she had her way    she’d wring his neck
yet over the years it caused negligible harm
daughter forgetting inane lines
remembering only his charm and     oh what the heck
The boy stood on the burning deck

Eating peanuts by the peck
and how I’d laughed      thinking
he was the best dad ever
later clamoring to hear war stories
his exploits flying Kittyhawks
over North African desert as     setting suns bled
especially the time     he was shot down
spent three days hiding out     might have
built it up   found    he could have said
whence all but he had fled

But in those airplanes one flew solo
so he was all alone     and somehow
that made it seem more dangerous
yet he survived      and he was saved
by nomads in the starlit night
a cooler     safer     time to trek
they put a teatowel on his head
(at least that’s what he said)
blackened his face with some sort of dreck
but not from the flame that lit the battle’s wreck

For there had been no engine fire
just close encounters in Arab tent
with elders pointing at his eyes
his blueblue eyes     so hard to hide
imagine eyes like that     on Arab son
their daughter right beside the bed
the stench he said made him want to run
then the British came and got him out
my invincible father    that life he led
as if some halo    shone round him o’er the dead.

~ Joanne Underwood
Joanne Underwood is an empty-nester who maintains a home base in Calgary. There she writes poems about family to share with her sons, thus keeping family stories alive and in an interesting format.

“I write my poems in order to leave some part of me and my story behind for my children. I wrap myself in the memories and enjoy getting them down on paper. Family and friends play an important part in these poems. Where would I be without them?”

You can read more of Joanne’s poetry here

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