Bruce Curley


Bruce is quickly becoming a regular reader with the Memorial Day Writers? Project.  He is a technical writer and poet.  He has been published in numerous poetry journals and several anthologies.  Bruce lives with his wife and children in Mt Airy, MD. and was an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 




Screaming Like a Banshee


My wife screams like a banshee


to cover wailing with neutral sound

when my toddler Eamon fights her

and refuses to take a nap.


I hear Grandmom Curley screamed

like a banshee when the telegram arrived

from the War Department in 1945

to tell her the oldest, Frank, the one

who was supposed to be the Jesuit,

instead had been killed in action

when the Japanese ack-ack

turned his B-24 into a fireball

on his 39th mission over Haha Jima

in an ocean grave in the South Pacific.


Grandmom Curley screamed

like a banshee for weeks

until they hooked her up

and shot electricity through her brain

to cover wailing with neutral sound.

She never screamed like a banshee again.


Instead, she wailed so deep down for 20 years

because the hole in her heart was so vast

laughter was no longer a planet in her galaxy

and the only way people would describe her was,

?She was never the same after Frank died in the Pacific.?


Future Dust


"I'll never look like that!"

I said to myself when we were offloaded

from the Lakeland Air Force Base Officer

 Training School bus

and heard the upperclassmen

bark orders at us, the arriving class,

and saw the triple rings under their eyes.


Six weeks later, I looked like that

as I stood at the attention outside my room

on Saturday Morning Inspection


(as one upperclassman stood

outside my room looking at every detail

of my appearance for deviations

"Details will save your life!"

repeated by my teachers so often

it is forever burned into my mind,

and another ran over every detail in my room

from the folds in the mattress

to the spacing between my socks).


I broke after they left

to scan my demerits book

aware that so much depended

on my finally bringing those demerits down:

my graduation, the cohesion of my flight, honor,

the future of the United States of America.

And there it sat, like a turd

the inspector left behind

from his white-gloved hand:

"Future dust."


When the inspector returned

for questioning, I fired it right at him,

"What's 'future dust', Sir!?"

"I'd have had a perfect inspection

but for that demerit."


"Come over here, son."

he said in a thick Southern drawl.

He opened the blinds to let in the sun

and pointed at the air.


"What's that?" he said,

a thin grin opening on his face,

all the muscles in his future fighter pilot's body

preparing to press the red button on the joystick.

"Dust, Sir." I stated.

"Wrong, Officer Candidate Curley!

That's future dust!

In a few minutes it will land

on your desk and you failed to prevent it!

Therefore, you Sir, are guilty!

Guilty of letting down your flight

Guilty of failing to prevent future dust!"
Three demerits. Good-bye!


As our teachers told us so many times,

they were preparing us for war.

Waging war has rules and surprises,

and surprises repeated often enough

become the rules of warfare.


Like future dust,

Or the future dust of a company

that fails to plan for the next bear market,

or the future dust of a family death,

or the future dust of the lack of preparation

for the next war and the deaths that will result,

or the dust of skyscrapers brought down


by fanatical Mohammedian jihadis,

or the future dust we will find

clogging the oxygen filters

of our interplanetary space ships.


So many years later,

I now know they were right.

We all must be eternally vigilant

to prevent future dust from landing,

if we are to have any chance at all

of a life in the space dust of the future.


Lament for American Hands and Hearts


A father will not be coming home tonight, or ever.

He was among 45 passengers

On a routine American commercial flight, Flight 93

When terrorists, Satan?s gift to the forces of evil,

Unjust war, pestilence, anger, murder, envy and all mortal sin,

Slit the throats of some mothers who were stewardesses,

Bound them, sprayed mace at the men, who tried to help,

Herded them into the back of the plane,

Rushed the pilots, murdered them, and hijacked the plane.


Nevertheless, this father Thomas Burnett

Calmly phoned his wife to say,

?I know we?re all going to die.

There?s three of us who are going to do something about it.?

As Mark Bingham phoned his mother to say,

?I just want you to know I love you.?


They organized and planned in nanoseconds,

And acted with fearlessness in minutes.

They overpowered the murders before them,

Charged down the 33 rows and 290 feet of 767 aisle,

Kicked down the locked cockpit door,

And 3 unarmed average Americans

subdued 4 armed , vile, and unclean Bin Laden terrorists

Because they overheard the terrorists plans to turn

The civilian airliner into a war missile

To kill more innocent civilians

In a new kind of war the terrorists

Decided and stated for decades ago, had no rules.


The unarmed Americans fought bravely and well.

They pulverized the puny terrorists who,

Now stripped of their most advanced weapon?surprise?

Cowered beneath the first and fierce counterstrikes

Of many future ones from average Americans

Until we drive these terrorists back to the caves

From which they emerged,

As their caves become their tombs,

As we carry forth the spirit of those who fought and died

Above the Amish Pennsylvania countryside

Who put into practice the ancient Amish saying,

?Hands to work and hearts to God.?


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