Post to the Host

Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

Send GK Your Question »

November 27, 2006 | 4 Comments


He fought in the European campaign, flying the B-24,
A kid in a flight jacket, in the clean blue cold,
And all his life he didn't say much about the war
But down deep he was always 25 years old.
And he looked at authority with a narrow eye
And when they told him to line up here, he went over there.
A long life and right up until he waved goodbye
He was independent, flying on a wing and a prayer.
Skirting the clouds, looking for what is real,
Poking his camera through the door, lifting the lid,
Watching, looking, listening: that was his deal,
And in his memory, we could do the same, kid.
        To give up authority and simply try to see.
         I'll look out for you, kid, you watch for me.


This is one of the best sonnets I've ever read. Although I never met Mr. Robert Altman, I've seen his films and read of him over the years. The sonnet beautifully captures his soul and the spirit of creativity!

Thank you.

My whole life, for some odd way reason, I have spent considerable time listening to the war stories of old fliers and fighters.
From my dear Uncle Bill, who was a B24 navigators in the Pacific became a quiet judge to my dear friend today who was a Bristol Blenheim nightfighter pilot who crashed in the streets of London 66 years ago and who still loves to hit me hard on the shoulder and eye the ladies.
All these men have openly talked about the war with me because I bothered to know the history and, equally importantly, I bothered to ask. I listen and feel and have no illusions that it was glorious but do know that they, like Mr. Altman in your poem, always remain 24. It was the best of times and the worst of times but what a time.
Thank you for capturing the emotion I have felt since I was a teenager and first started hearing these stories.

I think Marriner M. wildly overreacted to the "liquids-in-the-trash-can" skit. It was NOT particularly offensive. On the other hand, it was also not particularly funny. But then, when you've got to fill 2 hours every week, you're not going to hit a home run every time.

Your sonnet for Bob Altman touched my soul--as did the movie you made together, Prairie Home Companion.

My father, the pilot of a B-24, was 25 when he and his crew were shot down over Belgium in 1944, on his mother's birthday and ten days before I was born.

When my mom learned that he was missing in action, she was in the hospital and had just delivered me. When they gave her the telegram, she had a vision of his plane spiraling down in smoke.

Had my father survived the war, I think he'd have been a farmer in Nebraska, still flying the small planes he loved. His absence left a hole in my heart that nothing has ever filled.

Gwen Jorgensen

Previous Post:

Next Post:

Post to the Host Archive

Complete Post to the Host Archive

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy