Conflict Poem:’The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner’ by Randall Jarrell (1914-65)

I sometimes think that because we find change hard, rather than use systematic ways to better address our conflicts, we would rather go on killing each other, suing each other, divorcing each other, depressing each other, and generally doing all the dysfunctional things that failure to address our conflicts systematically almost inevitable delivers. With this is in mind, I give you a short poem from World War 2:

 

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell published in 1945. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft.

 

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

 

Jarrell, who served in the Army Air Force provided the following explanatory note:

 

“A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside down in his little sphere. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose.”

 

 

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Art, Conflict History, Conflict Poetry, Conflict Processes, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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