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Michael Martone

MICHAEL MARTONE was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he learned at a very early age, about flight. His mother, a high school English teacher, read to him of the adventures of Daedalus and Icarus from the book Mythology written by Edith Hamilton, who was born in Dresden, Germany, but who also grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Martone remembers being taken by his father to Baer Field, the commercial airport and Air National Guard base, to watch the air traffic there. He was blown backward on the observation deck by the prop-wash of the four-engine, aluminum-skinned Lockheed Constellation with its elegant three-tailed rudder turning away from the gates. At the same time, the jungle-camouflaged Phantom F-4s did touch-and-goes on the long runway, the ignition of their after-burners sounding as if the sky was being torn like blue silk. As a child growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Martone heard many stories about Art Smith, “The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne,” and the adventures of this early aviation pioneer. In the air above the city, Martone, as a boy, imagined, “The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne” accomplishing, for the first time, the nearly impossible outside loop and then a barrel-roll back into a loop-to-loop in his fragile cotton canvas and baling wire flying machine he built in his own backyard in Fort Wayne, Indiana, whose sky above was the first sky, anywhere, to be written on, written on by Art Smith, “The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne,” the letters hanging there long enough to be read but then smeared, erased by the high altitude wind, turning into a dissipating front of fogged memories, cloudy recollection.

Contributer's Note

The Beatles first movie, Hard Day’s Night was released. By that time Martone had let his dark brown hair grow longer like most of the other boys in his school, and the longer hair increased the occasions when he received comments about his uncanny resemblance to the singer/songwriter. He imagined that he could see something around his eyes, the drape of his lids,

from The Collected Writings of Art Smith, The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne

One of Art Smith’s earliest aerial attempts pays homage to the inventors of heavier than air controlled powered flight. It was composed over the open ocean of North Carolina’s Outer Banks near Kill Devil Hills in 1915 after several trial runs spelled out with a stick upon the sand dunes.

A Leap Second

He opened the box of extra seconds, letting them warm to room temperature. The seconds, packed in like eggs, hummed in the carton. He turned to the window to pass the time. Later, he would select one second and add it to the official time, but for now he thought about what had happened. Outside, it was snowing. It seemed to always snow at this time, at times like this.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues