NATALIE SERIES POEMS/BOOK
Natalie is a unique lady who we can all identify with. She's a warrior woman who fought in the Malvinas/Falklands war and was badly wounded. Many of her friends were murdered for having different views, they were a few of The Disappeared. Over time she believes in peace and moves away from war. Natalie has a goth band and a red stunt aeroplane both called Mayo. Check Nat's story out. She is our sister.
Natalie: Poems of War and Peace
By Nick Armbrister
Copyright Nick Armbrister 2012
All of the characters in this story are fictional and the story is influenced by the author’s imagination but based upon actual events.
Only a single paragraph maybe reproduced solely for reviewing purposes. Credit Nick Armbrister in any article. All rights reserved.
A big thanks to Pete for naming Natalie when I asked him to pick a name when we met in the pub. Thanks to Mahalia for reading my poems and for letting me use her name, Natalie says thanks. Thanks to Paul for naming the first poem and for asking what I ask: What is it with dark haired gals? Dark haired girls are the best. Thanks to my Pagan Goddess/fate for letting me write this project, difficult and creative as it was. Thanks to vodka for stopping my tears for the loss of The Disappeared and the victims of a war that Britain calls the Falklands and Argentina the Malvinas. May all of you be remembered and never forgotten. My small work will never equal your sacrifices. And a final thanks to those who believe in peace and that we will one day achieve that in our world. We are all Natalie and brothers and sisters. She salutes you all.
Dedicated to Mahalia. Thank you for believing in me and for being my friend.
Natalie. What is it with Dark Haired Gals?
In the Goth club it was fun. Usual early 80s tunes played on the decks. Very early Skeletal Family, The Elementals, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Xmal Deutchsland, early All About Eve and local bands in our disco called Sacha's Berlin.
Natalie dances like her spinning Spanish stunt plane she flies at weekends. Flight and music are her passions, in time she'll serve in her country's Air Force. Latino gal pilots aren't new; they fought in Spain back in the late 30s. Nat is following their Latin tradition.
Her band, a Goth band is her heart. She represents all that is good and relates to flight and Goth music. Her path is to fly and create music. Does Nat know that her path of music and flying will be remembered forever, crossing all divides, be it years, political or war? With dark brown hair and grey eyes, Natalie was only Latino in her heart. Her pale white skin wasn't suited to her country's capital city.
She was born here in Buenos Aires and followed her local/national bands with a passion. Her stunt plane was named Mayo after her Goth band. She danced and lived for the moment, wearing her heart on her sleeve. Little did our lady know, she would be famous for all the wrong reasons. Nat danced on and felt alive.
Basic flight training was like dancing to The Elementals. Basic, scary and fun. Did Nat know that in a year she would be at the controls of a deadly multi million dollar warplane in the wrong war, with the wrong enemy? No amount of gothic looks would appease her situation over the coming months. Was it all real? That was a distant question, not for now.
The girl danced and flew with equal passion and ferocity. Her brown hair was all over her face and she danced like a spinning airplane. Eyes shut, she was somewhere else. In her mind, she was in the cockpit of her red coloured training plane. Her flight instructor, Alberto, allowed Natalie to acrobat the little plane. She flew it with wildness that surprised everyone, including her.
Rolling upside down and pulling the control stick to her guts, the red airplane moved like a kid’s toy. Diving straight downwards, picking up speed. Alberto was going to take over before top speed was reached but Nat second guessed him and pulled back into a half loop. Up they went into the blue, a hawk in the heavens. Free. Natalie screamed in joy. Looking over at Alberto, her smile said it all. She was a born pilot.
When the record changed, Nat went to the bar and ordered a glass of red wine. Joining her friends, they chatted on guys, music and Nat’s new air force career. Several of her friends had nice boyfriends or lovers with them. In close embraces, they kissed and made small talk. Nat chatted to Katie, on the fundamentals of aerobatics and flight, demonstrating how to loop and roll with her hand. Her other held her wine. Time passed, music played, wine was drunk and Nat slow danced with Roberto.
Being Catholic and part of a close knit family, the girl was a bit of a rebel. Her mother wanted Natalie to marry and have children. Nat was having none of this; it was music, flying and the air force. Not even men like handsome Roberto swayed the girl for marriage. He was local and conscripted in the army. His passion was films and he had to give up college to serve his country. After a year he would finish off his film studies, if fate allowed. Both were friends and occasional lovers, now they danced in Sacha’s.
There was trouble in The Argentine. A few of Natalie’s friends spoke out against the military junta who ruled the country. The two girls and one boy, all aged eighteen, had simply vanished. Natalie was scared. Roberto warned her not to speak out. The same people who forced him into the army, ending his college studies, had apprehended the teens. Their fate was unknown and not good.
Nat was having none of this. She wrote a song, in Spanish, criticizing the government and asking where her friends were. At a live gig in a monastery town outside BA, her band did a gig and she sang that song. Other people were watching her. Her life and new air force career were in grave danger. Did Natalie know or care?
Natalie sang her song for her dear friends who were missing. It was no use going to the authorities, they were responsible! The message was clear. Don't speak out against the ruling junta. Was Nat actually on their side? Joining the air force and being a future tool for their use in any war with Chile over the border or even Britain on the Malvinas. Either thought scared her to death.
While on stage Nat briefly toyed with the idea of dropping out of her training. The fate of her friends deeply affected her; she could end up like them. Dead or missing. People in the audience never took their eyes off Nat. She had power here, real power. That was dangerous. A shady man by the bar also watched and waited. Nat cried and sang for her pals and all the other Disappeared. Was it really real? Teenagers going missing because they believed in freedom? The rest of Mayo's set passed in a haze of emotion. Two encores later, it was over.
Nat was drained and got a strong drink at bar. The man in black walked over and nodded at the girl. She looked back blankly. Her eyes followed his hand as he opened his jacket. She saw a gun. The threat was clear. Don’t step out of line. He finished his beer and left the bar. Natalie was shaking now, frightened that They knew who she was and that she knew what was going on. Her song was proof of that. The barman served her drink and she downed it on one.
Natalie. Mid Course
Nat continued her flight training, moving onto more powerful aircraft, flying on and passing her Basic with ease. Next was a fast prop plane from America. It handled like a Mustang. Her instructor was in the back seat. Natalie was up front, alone fighter style.
Her first flight nearly killed them. The roaring engine stopped dead. Engine failure at six thousand feet brought silence. She took control. Pushing the nose down not to stall, Nat made a decision: to land the plane on the Pampas grass. It would save them all. Her instructor kept an eye on his pupil. They should have jumped when there was height to.
The grey green trainer floated like a bird over the huge plain. Nat dropped the nose and flaps and picked a spot. One time lucky. Earth and plane serenely kissed, a song bird alighting a flower. Nat had done it! They were down in one piece, with no damage. Long Pampas grass cushioned their plane.
Nat's instructor knew she would breeze through flight school. Her next fifteen flights were fun. Dog fights, formation flying and navigation. Then the jet! Did Natalie think engine failure was an attempt on her life? To silence her anti government songs? Would the loss of a flight instructor be acceptable? A bullet in her pretty head would be far simpler. Or the other way.
They who watched her let her fly. When Natalie passed her fast prop course with flying colours, They allowed her to live. For now. She could be used, manipulated and sent to war where she would no doubt die. They ruled like Nazis. Some had been in a previous life.
Fast jets beckoned and Nat moved up to a cool Italian aircraft. Fast looking and stylishly designed. On her first flight Nat knew she would go to war. A gut feeling told her. Her instructor showed her how to evade a fictitious enemy by rolling, turning and diving, then climbing. Finally getting on his tail and killing him. He let her loop and roll the advanced jet.
Thirty more jet flights followed, strenuous in every way. High speed flight was dangerous. Another pilot crashed. Finally Nat passed and got her wings. At the passing out parade, she was told what warplane she would fly. It was the American A-4B Skyhawk. Natalie wanted the fast French Mirage but so did everyone else. Now she was committed, personal thoughts or not.
What They did to Nat's three friends was terrible. Abducted by the authorities in the middle of the night, taken against their will and ending their young existence. Hours of torture to get any info, put onto a plane and then...
Filipe was lying in his mother's arms. A caring embrace. No bond was stronger than a mother's and her child. Especially Catholic. Soon it would be time for his bed time story, after his nap...
Suddenly Filipe was jerked violently awake, his drug induced dream history. A huge noise over came him and he was so cold. No sight. What? He was blindfolded and his limbs were bound. What was happening? Waves of unconscious started to drag him under again.
He was aware of men shouting and someone kicked him in the side. It didn't hurt due to the drugs. Before he passed out Filipe felt hands drag him to the noise and a feeling of flying engulfed the young political protestor, then swirling blackness claimed him. The drugs kicked in before the freezing ocean smashed his frail body.
Many perished this way. They were The Disappeared and were shot or drugged and thrown out of aircraft into the ocean, far from land. Filipe and his two female friends were only three among one thousand who were murdered this way, along with tens of thousands more who perished...
Natalie. Battle Maiden
Flying the Skyhawk was easy. Learning tactics wasn't. Aerial refuelling was hard, as was formation flying. Natalie grew up and lost her girliness. Inside she was a woman. Her view on the government remained. Should she bomb the junta in her plane? Thoughts of that were brushed aside when she was deployed near the Chilean border when tension increased in the long running border dispute.
Flying three armed patrols convinced Chile to stop sabre rattling and withdraw her soldiers. Nat was gaining experience. Public opinion was turning against the government, an ongoing crisis that needed expert handling. War was the answer. Not with Chile but in the Malvinas.
An army, armed to the teeth, sailed and was flown out. British resistance was subdued and Argentina took the Malvinas. Natalie and her squadron were on standby for action. Britain retaliated and UK ships headed south. Nat trained in anti ship attack. Soon her skills would be needed.
People were behind the war. Not questioning about The Disappeared or how to get rid of the evil junta. The Malvinas were finally ours and a joyous mood overtook many people. In the military, it was different. A real fight would soon erupt. The Brits were coming and Nat was scared. What had she got herself into?
Training continued and there was no time for her band, seeing her friends or little else. Not even secretly discussing how to help make the government fall with her fellow activists. It was a fine line of madness. An air force jet pilot with illegal views and rebellion songs.
She could change the history of her country, Argentina, forever. If she dropped a few bombs on the leaders, it was over. The new war, The Disappeared, the fear. All of it. Could she do it? Would she? Nat knew where the leaders were and would strike on her next armed training mission. Fate stopped her. Events moved quickly and the young warrior woman never had chance.
Nat did hear off Roberto. He was on the Malvinas in the infantry, untrained and with no dog tags. Film studies were still on his mind. It was the last she would ever hear of him. Being the only female pilot in a male squadron, Natalie took no crap. Her practise bombing scores were excellent. Weeks passed and war came.
Finally it was time. Taking off with three other jets to hit British shipping, Nat was facing her baptism of fire. Mid air refuelling gave gas to reach the target. With speed and surprise they attacked. Who would live and who would die?
Natalie. War Woman
The Royal Navy ship filled Natalie's gun sight. She fired her 20mm cannons and pulled up, dropping her bombs. With a sickening jolt they fell free and Nat lowered her nose, weaving her jet, flying away from the large ship. Tracer fire and a single missile raced past her. A faint boom indicated her bombs had gone off. Did she sink the enemy ship?
It was fly for her life. Sea Harriers were inbound. Natalie cursed her government for starting this evil war, for putting her in harms way and for killing her friends. It’s partly my fault, her mind screamed. You wanted to fly, not to fight and kill or be killed. Silly girl! Suddenly a warning was shouted over the radio. More voices and then silence. A Sea Harrier had shot down an A-4. Who was hit?
Nat just about made it to the Hercules tanker. She shook with fear. When she landed, her flight suit was drenched in sweat. Two jets were missing. Natalie had damaged a destroyer and killed British personnel. She was physically sick. Her Skyhawk had eight small bullet holes in it and this was only her first mission. The Medical Officer gave her the okay and she attended debriefing.
The next few days were critical. British ships had to be sunk and people killed to defeat the English. It was obvious to all; this would be a bitter fight. Air power had to defeat sea power. Nat flew another mission with mixed results, learning to temper her fear and use her skills and new experience. She saw her cannon fire rake a destroyer but her bombs missed, exploding either side of the ship.
Her third mission was her last over the Malvinas. On the hills above the bay, enemy guns and missiles were getting more lethal every day. Never mind the ships’ weapons and marauding Sea Harriers. Losses were several planes each day. Nat’s time was finally up. She hit a Royal Navy destroyer, blowing a big hole in it with her thousand pound bomb. There were many killed. Natalie never saw the wounded English gunner firing a 20mm cannon when she sped ten metres overhead.
Exploding shells slammed into her A-4 and Natalie almost lost control. Desperately she pulled up, avoiding slamming into the black cold water. A 20mm shell blew her lower left leg off. By a miracle she never passed out, the pain was something else. Blood filled the cockpit. Right there, she wanted to die. No more pain. Not physical nor mental over her Disappeared friends. One simple shove of the controls and the sea would claim her...
In 2012 on the thirtieth anniversary of the Malvinas war, a muted celebration of remembrance was taking place in Buenos Aires. A band called Mayo were performing a gig and highlighting their new album. With songs of peace and above all else, a song about three missing teens from 1981. The singer was a middle aged woman called Natalie.
She was a very remarkable lady. By all accounts she should have been dead. Her final flight, with near total blood loss, in a crippled A-4B Skyhawk had passed into aviation legend. Even her former enemies had recognized her courage in making it back to base after being wounded. How she managed to rendezvous with the Hercules tanker was anyone’s guess. Maybe Nat had a guardian angel and her job wasn’t war but peace.
“I’m Natalie. Most of you know my story. How I love music and flying. And how I still follow those two passions and also a third one. That is PEACE. It was only after the fall of the junta that I learnt of the fate of my three friends. How they were abducted by the authorities, tortured, drugged and put on a Navy plane. Then flown an hour out to sea and thrown out, naked, from thirteen thousand feet. All perished.”
A huge crowd stood in silence, listening. Most were young, born after the junta years and Malvinas war and The Disappeared. However, their parents and older people remembered and many of these cried, remembering tens of thousands who were murdered. Most were innocent, a few guilty. All were killed.
“I could have stopped this by bombing the leadership. Now I know it would have been a suicide mission and they would have been replaced but people could have rose up and brought revolution. I never flew that mission. I was ordered to bomb British ships, this I did. The junta knew of my band Mayo and of my music. I believe they thought I’d be killed. I very nearly was. I lost a leg and have inner scars of those years. This song is for my three murdered friends. They are called Filipe, Anetta and Mahalia. I’d also like to dedicate this to my old enemy, whose men I killed and maimed. And to my own countrymen who were led to their deaths, especially young Roberto who never did make his films. For peace my friends, this song is for you...”
Natalie. An End
In 2012 on the thirtieth anniversary of the war, the dispute is still raging on who should own the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. With oil exploration in the area, both sides need to come together and talk. The Argentine military junta started a war that killed almost a thousand people. This must never happen again. Never mind the tens of thousands of The Disappeared who were murdered for being a threat or having an opinion or different views or for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Natalie is a character of my imagination but in Argentina and in Britain and in every country upon this world, Nat has brothers and sisters who say NO to war and repression. Let Natalie’s voice always be heard and never ever silenced.
For Natalie, warrior woman turned warrior of peace.
Natalie. Natalie and Nick
I forgive you Ruby for hurting me. Now I must move on and go far away from you. I’m getting married to my warrior friend. Please don’t be mad with me. I think you’d approve and like Natalie. She loves gothic music and even has a band called Mayo, never mind her tattoos and love of flying. Like you, she speaks to me in my dreams. Unlike you, she won’t ever hurt me. I wish you happiness with your new flame, Ruby. I must go and meet my new bride.
What is it with dark haired girls? For Natalie, my kindred spirit who finishes my sentences and loves kebabs, as I do! I see myself inside of you and I see you in me. You, my dear Latino lady. My lover, my sister, my friend, my wife, mother of my children. Protector of my country, your country, our country. You showed me your world, a group of islands, South Atlantic. So beautiful, like you aged 18 in 1982 and now 48 in 2012. Malvinas, Falklands. Our home.
I hold your hand and see the waves lap at the shore, eternal movement. Like the planets. Oh Natalie, we shouldn’t be together. We are. You the Argentinean lady, me the English guy. Enemies no more. Later, you’ll take me flying in your red Spanish two seat stunt plane. We’ll touch the aquamarine blue and loop the loop, fly low over the ocean free as a bird and stall turn like a butterfly. I’ll protect you from repression and pain my dear wife. Forever.
If we can be happy and at peace, so can our two countries. Let them learn from us. Peace and love, born from the war that cost you a leg. Nearly your life. Now a new life grows slowly in your belly. If he’s a boy, we’ll call him Roberto, if a girl, Mahalia. In memory of your lost Disappeared friends and Roberto.
Oh my dear friend Roberto. I remember back to our time, when we made love. Not the last time but the time before. When you were doing your college film studies and were so happy on your future. It was you who said, “Nat, I’ll make the best film ever made.” And his dear eyes were so full of passion, life and innocence. And a love so powerful, I cried, right there. A love of life, film, his country and lastly, for me. I knew then in that moment Roberto loved me. Maybe more than all the other things. How was that possible?
I replied to his film statement. “Tell me, what film will you make Roberto?” Those precious eyes clouded over. I heard him whisper: “Why Natalie, I’ll make the film about you. A small story about you, how you’re in a band and love to fly in your red stunt plane. My film is about you Natalie.”
I was utterly speechless. Those close to me, and anyone who cared to listen, knew my voice was always in motion, just like the ocean. He looked at me. That moment is still with me over thirty years later. I never did reply to him. I embraced him and cried tears of joy. For him and for a love I had but never dared admit to myself, till Roberto died in a British artillery barrage weeks later. I was in love with him. He has no known grave.
Was his body found and marked ‘Unknown Argentine Soldier’ because he had no dog tags? Those beautiful innocent eyes are gone forever. I can’t remember what colour your eyes are!
Oh my dear Roberto, I say it now. Every day since you were killed in battle, I say aloud my love for you. Even now I’m married to Nick and with him, he understands. His words bring clarity to me when I weep for you, dear Roberto. A life stolen by war, unfulfilled. You never did make your film about me, never completed your film course or chased your dreams. All dreams shattered by Them, those who forced you to join our army to fight the English.
I quietly say to myself, your end was fast and you never suffered. I don’t know exactly where you lost your young life, just the area. I’ve been there to see with my own eyes. I felt you were nearby to me. Are you still earth bound my love? Are you? I sense that you are. Please be happy for me and my new family. I wanted all this with you but war stole you from me, forever.
At least now I have someone who should hate me for what I did to his countrymen and who listens to my incoherent words about you Roberto. It shouldn’t be Nick wiping away my tears, it should be you. Please stay close to me. I have to move on from those awful times. I dedicate my life to peace. Please understand my lost friend.
Natalie. San Carlos Water
Pieces of flotsam and jetsam floated on the early evening tide. Turning this way and that, always in motion. Never still, each bit jostling with the other for a foothold on the sand, being denied by the rolling water. Little bits of detritus in the ocean. In time, all would be land born and still, stranded for awhile till the next high tide.
On a large rock something slowly smouldered, gentle orange flames framed by the setting sun. A sepia photograph of a past event. By a sheltered pool, more fire slowly flickered before petering out, forever. Extinguished by a gentle spring breeze that blew in from nowhere, adding to this once perfect scene, now disturbed by an event.
Several people had rushed to the beach, after seeing it happen. They pointed and talked, their attention drawn to three ruined objects tossed haphazardly onto the shore. On closer inspection, the broken things were distinguishable from everything else. One person was sick and looked away with a grim expression. A smell of iron and gasoline filled the air, further spoiling what was almost paradise.
A red fragment of debris foundered upon the shore. Two men waded into the surf and dragged the unwieldy bit of smashed metal ashore. One gained a nasty gash upon his hand. Salt water stung his wound and he swore. His blood indistinguishable from the ruined aeroplane, binding him to this scene. Finally reaching the damp sand they dropped their find, seemingly more important than the other flotsam.
“It belongs to them. I can read ‘Mayo’ on the metal. Look, there,” one of the two said. His colleague nodded. Other people gathered around the men, needing to see for themselves proof of what it was. As if the three broken bodies weren’t evidence enough. Like acid eating away a pretty face, everyone knew the awful truth. Nobody dared to utter the obvious. As if committing war and sinfully acquiring a place in hell?
Exceedingly slowly, the sun set and coloured the bay at San Carlos Water a beautifully vivid red. All present would remember this moment for all eternity. One old soldier limped over to his daughter. He wasn’t afraid to speak, being battle hardened on this very island. “I watched Natalie’s red stunt plane loop and roll in this sky, not an hour ago. I never saw her fly like that; she looked just like a bird. Then they came apart mid air and fell into the sea.”
“No dad, it’s not the same sky you saw Nat fly in. Her sky was always blue. This red sky is one of death. Somebody great died here doing something she loved, along with her family. Natalie loved peace. She would want to be remembered for that, as a free spirit who stood for peace. Her sky will always be blue, no matter what happens dad. Forever,” replied the soldier’s girl. He knew she spoke the truth. Everybody did.
Only God knew what happened when Natalie did aerobatics in her precious little Spanish stunt plane named Mayo. Did she overstress her airplane pulling out of a loop? Nothing except broken smashed fragments remained, including Natalie’s fractured body. Her husband Nick and their young son Roberto were equally disfigured; so ferocious was Mayo’s airborne structural failure. Three lives selfishly stolen by death.
“You’re right, Natalie’s sky is always blue. It wasn’t good. I’ve not seen anything as bad since the war way back in eighty two,” nodded the ex British soldier. His gaze took in the scene before him and his daughter: people attempting to drag bits of Mayo out of the shallow water. Closer still and the final flames flicked out, turning to smoke; he wanted to ignore difficult attempts to save the bodies. It was like their old war and as wrong.
“We must continue her work. Her and Nick and Roberto would want that. We must keep their passion for peace alive, forever. We must do this for them and all of us. We must never forget what happened here, forty years ago. So it never happens again. And always remember that Natalie was part of war and then peace. We always must believe,” replied his daughter. Her tears fell at San Carlos Water...