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Copyright: Fred Robel, and Fritz365 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fred Robel and Fritz365 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Around The World In 98 Hours

And her wings were gleaming
With hot de-icing fluid steaming
The lavatory was serviced
I high fived the mechanic on shift
Transferring the baton my way
With not a single deferred maintenance item in the book
Everything was green
Fired up the engines
And got gone

The number one engine used a bit of oil
With some coking all about the tailpipe
So I topped up the tank
Scraped off the crust
And chased down the catering truck
Before it got away
Might have hit a goose with the leading edge on final
A judicious smack with a dead blow took that dent right out
The motors started spooling
Calling me to the boarding stairs
To close the door

Hong Kong:
Blew the number seven tire on landing
I think we ran over some scrap on the runway
The airport police were all over the place
Taking pictures and racing down the concrete
Looking for more bits and pieces
They wouldn't let me near the bad tire right away
So I passed the time putting a scab patch over that goose strike
As it had somehow cracked the metal on the long flight
Probably from me hitting it with the hammer
But I'm not sorry I did it
Finally the cops got out of the way
The tire got changed
I ruined my shirt
And I was done with that island airport

I had a dream about a kangaroo that bit me and gave me rabies
Such was my punishment for trying to sleep hopped up on Redbull
And I awoke just as the dream doctor who looked like Crocodile Dundee
Was giving me a shot in the stomach with a giant rusty needle
Dust was blowing everywhere as I practically fell out of the lower hatch
Startling the ground handlers
So I pretended like I'd meant to do that
Trying not to limp as I went around wiping down the landing gear
Fishing out the ladder from the aft compartment again
Checking oils
Checking the damaged wing leading edge
Being distracted by a two plane formation touch-and-go
By some RAAF F-111 Aardvarks
A sight not seen at home or anywhere else anymore
Someday the plane will break so I can spend a couple days Down Under
But not today

Finally found my Primaquine tablets about an hour out
Realized I should have started taking them two days ago
Took two days worth of pills to try and make up for it
Stomach felt upset as I clambered down the ladder for the ground checks
Threw up uncontrollably next to the left body gear on the ramp
Shirt so covered in sick that I took it off and threw it away
All the ramp people stared at my love handles
Two of them whistled
One offered a phone number
I think they were all joking
Had to top up the number two hydraulic system
Splashed hydraulic fluid on my chest
Which broke out into a rash almost immediately
Combining with the over one hundred degree outside temps
Making me feel like I was standing under a blowtorch
Our sealed aluminum tube of conditioned air a welcome relief

Took a sponge bath in the lavatory during the flight
Checking myself for mosquito bites and not finding any
But getting phantom itches just the same
Praying that all the malaria ones had been too full to bother with me
I ran into the terminal and bought two new shirts
Blue and white Ankaraspor football club
And I looked quite dashing
With green hills in the distance
Dotted with whitewashed villages
I added some quick set aerodynamic sealant
To the edges of the goose damage on that leading edge
There seemed to be cracks spreading from it
Number one engine took two gallons of oil to top up
Maybe I forgot to check it last time?
I was sad to see Turkey slip aft as we flew away

My game plan had been plotted out as we flew
Where I was going to speed through all my duties
Then run to the terminal for some good Irish beer
It didn't seem to work that way though
As there was some outsized cargo to load through the nose
And I had to help the loadmaster out with it
Who ships a seventy five foot box anyways?
Number one engine took about a gallon and a half this time
Which seemed to be an improvement
The APU was leaking something down the fuselage belly in the rear
Making an awful mess out of things
Borrowed a lift from Aer Lingus
Tightened up the oil filter in and out lines
It seems nobody had safetied them and they had loosened
Suddenly it was time to go
And there sat the Pub in the terminal
Only a hundred yards away
Which might as well be a hundred leagues
I shed a tear for the lost glass of stout on the way out

All the way across the Atlantic
I'd watched the oil quantity in the number one engine go down steadily
From a high of almost nine gallons when we took off
To a low of two gallons as we entered the pattern for O'Hare
Where a new engine awaited our arrival
To be swapped into that number one position
Another box sat near our parking spot as well
With a section of leading edge  to replace what the goose had smashed
Those two items
Plus four other deferred avionics issues
Were going to make for a busy twelve hour turnaround time

Sixteen tires made sixteen puffs of smoke as we kissed home again
Her wings were a little dirty and scuffed
The lavatory was unspeakably foul
The ground mechanic scowled at the work to-do list
As we all got busy erasing the marks left by a long trip around the world

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Break Fast

Strings of wet shredded wheat cling
To the white porcelain bowl
Forgotten in the haste to taste
All the better more sugary bits

Waiting patiently
Gripping tenaciously
Drying constantly
Scraped expectantly
Chewed tastelessly

The best parts of you
Have already sweetened my soul
Sugared the milk
Making me fatter the goal

Leftover breakfast cereal
Flies in subdued disgrace
To land awkwardly in the stainless sink
Sinking to sleep with the fishes
Because nobody wants to do the dishes

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tree Study #4

Roots tear free in unbridled glee
Dancing across the lawn
This towering one hundred foot tall
Mad Hatter crowned tangoing maple tree

That's really not what's happening at all
It is only how I'm seeing things
Viewed through my peyote gaze
Clouded with that bitter spirit quest tea

A raccoon marries a squirrel in a solemn ceremony
As I stand witness and vomit my approval
Which is perfectly normal
This isn't my first woodlands wedding you see

As usual my skin crawls off of my body
In a slung off limp exoskeletal heap
Something for biology majors to find and debate
A bit of fin grain leather stock for free

From underneath my true nature is revealed
As a coarse bark layered thing from obscurity
A little too on the nose for a costume choice
But in my addled state this is what I'd be

Size ten rooted to air Ent feet
That's what I see when I look down
With stiff limbed arms swaying to the walk
Long twig fingers fluttering like banshee bees

The Postman comes by delivering the mail
Staring steadily to keep an eye on me as he goes
This is far from the first time I've been seen marching the front yard
Covered in muddy sticks and leaves

And it likely won't be the last

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tree Study #3

Strength is all I can see when I look at you
And my hands cramp as a result
While filing the teeth of my chainsaw carefully
So I can have a go at your heroic form

Even more intimidating when I step up
Looming high overhead
A predator waiting to pounce
Your canopy shades with ill intent

Earplugs: check
Gloves: check
Safety goggles: check
Chainsaw....pull....pull....pull....pull....pull....pull....started!: check

I'd carefully make my first cut
But trees such as you
Seem to fall wherever they want
So blade flat to the ground
Motor blossoms blue smoke

Newly sharpened teeth burrow eagerly
Cutting a trench in your fiber
First through that thick outer skin
Then finding layers of rot

All that towering and scowling
Was just a pose it seems
As you were propped up by next to nothing
Your insides decayed and hollow

Still it was with sad eyes
That I followed your fall
Arcing into the clearing
To land with a thud
Cracking you open along your length

Your insides eaten by parasites
Filled with decay and excrement
Open to the gaze of the sun
There to be seen by anyone


Monday, May 11, 2015


Orange fluttering rybbon
Fluttering in the breeze
Stuck and tied to anything for an reason
Not everything
But things

Rybbon streamered bicycle handles
Flying backwards in response to rapid forward motion
Pedalling like mad in a pair of worn out Keds
Shoelaces daring fate to tangle them in the chain and sprocket
As they go 'round
And 'round

Rybbon marked short survey stakes
Self importantly marking property corners and utilities
Telling you where you can or cannot build or put a fence
Or where to dig to blow a water main
To dance in the geyser
Clothes optional

Rybbon wrapped present packages
First one way then twisted ninety degrees to go that
A crazy crippled cross of security
Obliviating fingertips and gay festive moods
Keeping presents a secret
Since when?

Rybbon mummified trick or treaters
Shockingly safety orange and chasing Wolfman down the street
Peering out through one tiny gap in the wrap
Crying out
"I'm the MUMMY!!!"
At the top of her lungs
Alternately sprinting and staggering
Waffling in and out of character
Finally taking down that Wolfman
As if the orange rybbon wrapped She be the Wolf
And not He
Face first onto the lawn

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mark II (A Tale of Earth 52.5)

The Mark I had disappeared into the darkness
The fact of which I couldn't get out of my mind

It had been in there while I was finishing up the Mark II
Which had been about 61% complete at the time of the first test
Or so my wall flowchart told me
And I had no reason to doubt it
As there were professional algorithms involved and everything

Now floating here against my nylon straps
Sweat condenscing in tiny droplet beads
That neither ran down my skin
Or cooled me in any functional way
I could not bring myself to press the button

There in the space of my mind hung the 'Daisy'
The name I'd given the Mark I upon its completion
Writ in large white cursive upon the side of her nose
A small twenty centimeter painting of a white daisy next to it

Not a soul was in the cockpit
The pilot's seat eerily empty and wrong looking
Though the set of controls that had been in front of me
Where I sat on the chase ship almost made me feel that I was there


I've told myself since
That had I been allowed to pilot the craft personally
I would have known that something wasn't quite right
A vibration
Or a whine
Or chatter
Something would have given away its off center condition to me

I had not hesitated that day
Surrounded by a small group of fellow technicians and tracking officers
With some top brass, funding angels, and family members watching the live feed
My confident digit had flipped up the guard over the button almost jauntily
Stabbing the button in expectation of the fulfillment of years of work

The telemetry skewed radically the instant I activated the fold
I still didn't know exactly what
Though I had theories

When the high speed imagery was slowed down
There are two still frames of interest

The first
Shows a distinct wrinkle in the backbone of the small craft
Running across the span of the backbone
Just above the gravity engine compartment

The second
Gives the distinct impression of peering into a funhouse mirror
With the fore and aft ends of the ship about six meters closer together
As if someone had divided the ship into thirds
Removed the center piece
And pushed the two ends together
But with an odd warpage to the area that they were joined

A third still frame 
From immediately after that
Finishes the story for all intents and purposes
Showing the emptiness of space as far as you can see

For the record
What should have happened
Was that the entire ship should disappear
And then reappear exactly ten meters away from where it started

I had done that same experiment in the lab hundreds of times
Seven hundred and sixty two times
To be exact
Using the scaled down table top sized version of the gravity engine
Which sat in a simple titanium framework
With rubber feet
To avoid scratching expensive conference tables during presentations

Of which there had been many
Accounting for thirty two of those test runs
For paying audiences as it were

Right now it was almost the opposite situation

I was out of money
No, more than that
I was technically homeless after leveraging everything to finish the Mark II
Having been told that 
"The concept needed refinement"

Now there was no chase ship full of people
Only a small recording satellite shadowing me at 1000 credits/hr
And me
Sitting in the primer black painted "Bones"
With the obligatory chalk drawn skull and crossbones on the nose
Finger hesitant
As if it had all the money and time in the world

My brain replayed those two horrifying still frames again for me
Just because it clearly cares

I held my breath and pressed that button

Nothing changed
It didn't even appear that I had moved
Everything was still green across the board
And I was..........exactly ten meters further from the recording sat


Saturday, May 9, 2015

An Unpleasant Patter

Footsteps upon the worn cracked linoleum
A never ending reminder that I'm not alone
For some a reassurance
For me a torturous ennui

Never getting closer
Though always threatening to
Never growing distant
Though often almost about to

I've grown to hate them
Those disembodied feet
Slapping the shitty floor
Pacing from door to door

I'd remove them from the offending body
Mount them to a plaque
To hang upon the wall near my bed
A reminder of a rare triumphant attack

But the coward always wins
Sucking all the cocky courage back in
To an empty milkshake straw sucking sound song
Letting those feet walk all over me again

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Roethke Imitation Game: Android Edition

That is less a man and more a machine,
Or clockwork, or automaton
Hydraulic actuators and complex linkage convert into four axis motion
How he could identify himself in a mirror and not short himself out with tears
Is beyond my comprehension or even his own, if limits be drawn
Or perhaps he is deeply in love with what he has become
Or rages against the loss of humanity
Or secretly tries to remove all the metal bits
Or orders even more components from obscure enhancement catalogs
Or he once decided to live forever and regrets that choice every day

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Gathering Escapement

Everything once was new
Turned brass balance pivots
Carefully wound balance springs
Pallets and escape wheels
Awaiting tiny centripetal flings

Machined edges glinting sharp as switchblades
Faces smooth as silk
Tool marks near invisible
Holding close parallel patterns
A single timing mark from a chisel

Slipped together in easy precision
Winding pinion turned
Potential energy stored
Then released in a tango of physics
A gentle advance and retreat
A back and forth
Sharp and precise infinite repeat

Time marches precisely within its metal skeleton
Attracting lint, dust, and dead skin
With the odd bit of sand working in
Lodging next to the moving bits
Doing nothing to the naked eye
But let time and ceaseless friction do their thing
And in ten years time give it another try

Where once was satin smoothness
Now is an ugly groove
Making a wobbling mockery of the balance staff
Endlessly turning in its ruby bearing
Driven by the escape wheel rocked pallet
See-sawing transfer of the winding spring power

Microscopic flecks of golden metal
Victims of this marking time machine
That slowly eats itself from the inside out
To make sure we are not late for work

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Now Leaving Baltimore; Next Stop......

My forefathers brought yours here
By hook
By crook
By kidnap
By fear
And were often surprised when they didn't like it
Refusing to work or openly rose up

Who wouldn't want to be forcibly enslaved?

My great-great-grandfathers saw yours freed
Chains got shucked off
Slavery a thing of the past
And were surprised when that didn't seem to placate
An offer of a ride back to the continent that must be your home
Forty acres, a mule and the technical right to vote
None of that seemed to cut it

Is simply not being a piece of property just not enough?

My father and grandfathers put forth the Civil Rights Act
No more back of the bus
Separate drinking fountains
Burning crosses or mob lynching
But then we were all surprised when those promises
They rang a little bit hollow
Leaving at best a thin Band Aid veneer of civility
That kept peeling at the corners
Revealing an ugly wound that just wouldn't heal

Could it be that you all want life, liberty, and justice too?

Now myself and my children are at a loss as to what to do
We've declared racism to be dead
Another fabled thing of the past
Peace in our time
Sure, accomplishing that might take some work
So we'll write some words
Before playing on our Xbox and getting junk food to go
Problem solved
I saw it on CNN and FOX in simple graphic solutions
But I'm still shocked and surprised when the anger boils over

How can saying the words not make it so?