Dan Kelsall


In Memoriam

On this day in 1952, in an act of Selfless Art,

US pilot John Leonard gave his life for this poem.

After collecting the decorative criticism of enemy fire, he

     Stopped his heart in dramatic fashion

And proceeded to direct his United States-commissioned coffin, with great precision,

Into a mountain.


In a posthumously published letter, John

Dedicated his final, triumphant work

To the red, to the white and to the blue

Of that all-American icon:

The star spangled banner.


Red – for the American blood spangled out on that mountainside;

White – for the freshly starched US-issue pilot’s shirt on his back;

Blue – for the azure haze of an ebullient North Korean sky.