Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)


Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

....and bathed in beads of fearful perspiration,
our pilot tried to re-start one more time.
He had exhausted all his skills, and navigation
of empty air space with no power, was a crime.

So, they prepared for the disaster by the book.
Your head goes forward with the pillow on your knees.
Your mouth is open, eyes would have a fearful look.
The pressure fails, a door flies out, in comes a breeze.

The first to go is flight attendant number two,
as by the exit she had tried to lock the latch.
It sucked her out, she struggled, then she flew.
Her fragile body for those forces was no match.

The folding seat, reserved for flight crew was now rattling,
the purser hurled himself to isle seat right nearby.
An older woman left the toilet and was battling
against the suction but she also had to fly.

The captain's voice now shouted his commands:
'Stay belted in, we're ditching in the sea.'
And one could see the golden dunes and endless sands.
I started praying to the cushion on my knee.

There was no sound except a howling from the wind,
the nose was up too much, the tail was sagging badly.
And in the cockpit sat the pilot and he grinned,
I thought he's losing it, we need him now, how sadly
these things turn out sometimes when nothing is expected.
A simple journey with a modern aero-plane,
then something happens and your whole life is affected,
as you go down at speed you try to look so sane.

We seemed to glide now, perhaps were slowing down,
only the body of the plane had started shaking.
A thousand rattles, I was sticking to my frown,
some of the passengers had quickly started faking
a calm expression in the face of Grim the Reaper.
Go out in style, die like a man, I thought of that.
I asked Him briefly whether He as my own keeper
could have the heart to show the way to where it's at.

We hit so hard the plane broke in two sections,
a fire flashed from deep within the galley floor,
the flight crew instantly was springing into action,
but nothing worked, the bloody shute stayed by the door.

We had our panic, something useless and insane,
that no one welcomes it although it fights the stress.
Now passengers were jumping off the plane.
A black-robed priest stood by the exit, said 'God bless'.

There, in the water, there was movement and much foam,
some of it red as many sharks were coming in.
The plane was tipping now, submerging its nose dome.
And soon the suction of the water would begin.

Some horrifying screams were heard, and limbs,
whole torsos, heads and other pieces floated
between the frenzied sharks but from the iron rims
of the wrecked plane were people jumping as I noted.

Then we went down within about ten seconds,
a pooping noise was like the last hooraah.
I thought is this how hell or heaven beckons,
and a decision was required - jump or stay.

Into the cockpit was my thought, I dove right in.
Quick. Shut the door and bolted, then took stock.
The storage section by the door was one big bin,
'twas filled with cylinders that said 15- B-Dock.

A bill of lading was attached to it, I read it:
Port Moresby - Helium, A-Grade, pressure sealed.
A thought appeared, before I could forget it
I started grinning at the secret here revealed.

I shook the pilot who had passed out cold and grinning,
as he came to he did confirm my bright idea.
If we could manage it, the chances of us winning
would be considerable, and we'd get out of here.

With kitchen knives and cockpit axe
we chopped the shute and sealed the cube.
And double-checked and caulked with wax
until we'd used the final tube.

Then, on command applied our masks
of oxygen's life-giving power.
Forthwith began the vital task
of opening up our helium shower.

All cylinders were cranked wide open,
their hiss drowned out our anxious fears.
We clung to instruments and seats, were hoping
would we go up if no one steers?

And with a gurgle and a rumble
we started our strangest trip.
At first we did a little tumble
and then a bumpy backward flip.

That's when the captain grabbed the stick
to steer our ship - I guess he's mad.
He turned around and said: 'Hey Nick,
we're gaining altitude, not bad.'
And up we floated now and hovered,
the four of us, by now recovered
from fatalistic final mood.
We broke the surface and went faster.
The captain stared, sat there like glued,
and said 'I take you from disaster
back to your loved ones in this ship.'
'Thank you for choosing us to fly
we hope you had a pleasant trip.
and now we bid you folks good bye
we'll see you back on our ship.'

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Read poems about / on: power, water, journey, sometimes, woman, red, fire, people, heaven, hope, wind, sea, spring, thanks, women, work, howl, fear, lost

Poem Submitted: Friday, December 31, 2004

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