Sunday Jun 23

Reiner Poetry Nicholas Reiner is a poet in the MFA program at University of California, Irvine, where he teaches poetry and composition. His work has appeared at, Basketball Prospectus,, and Orange Coast Review. He lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife.

Watching A Computer Animation of the Los Angeles Fire 3 Helicopter Crash

for my father, 1964-1998

You are in the red and white
chopper on the other side
of the screen,

the other side
of the sky,
and I cannot
see your face.

The mountains you fly
over come into
the foreground,
nonthreatening, royal.

The machine glides like
it’s entering the sky for the first time,
through a portal
from another era.

The main rotor spins,
the air around it.

It is a videogame,
the way the tail rotor
snaps off

the way the chopper tilts
left and wobbles.

You and the others
are now cedar waxwings
over the expanse of Griffith Park.

In the Army,
you jumped out of planes.
On my ninth birthday,
you and I did a skydive simulator.

How did Norma,
the wounded girl airlifted, look?
Is there no way
to tell me how you are doing?

The wounded chopper
approaches land,
the brown and green shapes
blurrier, block-like—

then pine trees appear
like popsicles out of the ground.

The pixelated helicopter
clips the trees, crashes,

lodged in the ground
like a stake.

There’s no fire
in the animation,
and no sound.

The trees tower, still and huddled
around the chopper,
as if they might bend down
at any moment
to you in the debris.