Hello, helo

Helicopter passing low above the sleeping streets,
Twin rotors chop the darkness into tumbling chunks of noise.
Where do you come from? No one knows. Your swash of sound retreats
Into the night, a mystery ship. Where are you heading, boys?
To barracks down on Salisbury Plain? Or out on exercise?
Are you weighed down with men and gear, or empty? What’s the plan
You’re part of: will your mission whirl you from these friendly skies
To sweat the bullet-spitting badlands of Afghanistan?
Fat men in suits on their hind legs in Westminster will claim
Your presence in those dusty wastes protects us from attack.
But I’m not asking you to go: you’re not there in my name.
So if you’re flying out tonight, pray God you’ll all come back.

 

Most nights now, at least one big, green, tandem-rotor Chinook helicopter goes whop-whop-whopping low over the town. The Chinook fleet is based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, so the westbound ones are probably heading home – but from where? And what about the ones flying east? Got me thinking…