bomber J. Alfier
Driving Up to Red Flag

Younger guys can fly the jets to Nellis,
you're a colonel, and need your own car...

The wife says a prospect of traffic jams
makes you exit west at Casa Grande.
But perhaps it's the way deserts dream lightning
in the beautiful ache of wilderness,
that keeps you from driving on through Phoenix.

As this road becomes a dead reckoning,
Mark-82 bombs slam south behind you,
churning scree on Goldwater Bombing Range
and battering the Gila Bend Mountains.

The tires carve dust that floats like a ghost
so you direct your mind to tasks before you:
airspace blocks and radio frequencies,
forces' bed-down, and air tasking orders,
live-fire day for cluster munitions.

The Vegas skyline eclipses these thoughts.
You forget a child's foot can arm a mine.