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Books & Poetry

Poem: In The Hangar

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, the sights, sounds and smells of RAAF hangars of the 1950s become a flood of memories for David Harris of the Adelaide Hills.

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In the Hangar

It’s the smell.
All aircraft cockpits have this smell.
Mechanics, electrics, hydraulics,
oil, fuel, sweat; unmistakable.
This warplane has more,
acrid, disturbing,
smell of weapons,
smell of fear.

Look outside.
The hangar,
cavernous, echoing.
More smells –
exhaust from whining air tools,
paint, solvents, coffee.

Through massive doors –
half the building moved aside
and there the airfield.
Bare, windswept, empty,
stretching to horizon.
Engine noises, smells of
jet fuel, burning kerosene,
or silence, deep silence.

Eyes draw back from sunlit glare,
back inside, into this plane.
I sink into the cockpit,
breathe deep,
let memories flood in.

David Harris is a retired engineer born in Perth and living in the Adelaide Hills. He flew Vampire and Meteor turbojet aircraft for the RAAF during the 1950s, the “golden age of flying”. He has kept up his flying, and today owns a Czech light aircraft, which led to the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Czech Air Force World War II Spitfire in the Technical Museum of Prague. He restores vintage aircraft, plays Celtic folk music, and his first published poem was in a school magazine.

From occasional poems and song lyrics over the years, he became a Friendly Street Poets Mentored Poet in 2011, and took up poetry more seriously.

The hanger of today’s poem”, says David, “could be any military hangar in the couple of decades after World War II, when the spirit and culture of the RAAF still reflected a wartime experience of no guided weapons, no electronics, no radar”.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.


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