Victory Camera 1-6 by Eleanor Paynter

fragments from the April 1943 issue of Popular Science

Victory Camera 1

This is what happened during and after the last war:
The orders came in. We were sitting in front of the fireplace

when the explosion occurred.
Nothing but explosions all day long.

Friction catches at the top. The margin of superiority holds
and holds well. It is heavily and staunchly built.

Don’t take a picture unless you really want it.
What is going to happen has little or no effect on the result.

The war emergency made it necessary.
Candy at the end of the cage.


Victory Camera 2

Aim, lead, and fire. That’s the eternal pattern.
The complex pattern of war production.

An unusual multicolored pattern,
the pattern woven into training

and habits. A heavy paper pattern.
Bombsight pattern. Your entire life

pattern. A square pattern
around the target, on which

the bombsight pattern
is inked or painted, over this hole.


Victory Camera 3

Morale in boxes.
The boxes are opened

by pressing sideways
on the pivot edges

with the thumb.
Always a thrill

to open a hive and study
its teeming activities.

Here’s what you get:
you get what you see.


Victory Camera 4

Here’s what each soldier
is carrying in the invasion:

information on wintering,
needless discomfort (the spring

is faulty; it may be necessary to alter
the shape to get the tension just right),

the best compromise between guns,
armor, and speed. Loss from any cause

would be a national calamity
with a radius greater than the bearing.


Victory Camera 5

In the era of world-building that is to come,
the work is as spectacular as the worker.

Raveling, worn thin, garments
have to last the duration.

Blankets, hats, and buttons
are being made from skim milk.

The secret of successful inventing
is knowing what to invent.

Glass mailboxes harmonize
with any background.


Victory Camera 6

When we could afford to shoot wildly,
how thin that red line was

between ourselves and defeat.
The time is up. A bell jangled.

There were two main causes for worry:
trying to find where the hole was

in the first place, and then unsolved
technical difficulties such as the transmission

of letters or a bunch of scrap
metal hung from the ceiling.



Eleanor Paynter has roots in Texas, Rome, and New York. Her work can be found in American Literary Review, Nimrod, South Loop Review, and in the chapbook Dismantling the Hive (Toadlily Press). She serves as Assistant Editor for Versal and lives in the Netherlands.