The Stewardess

California leaves in smoke & flame
cigarettes you never touched

the burning
bristle

but your hands
on steel made a home
in airplanes

soaring over the evergreen
we outgrew

you called a bottomless lake
drowning

monsters deep in murk

in the way of work
was love &

understanding this
you left the city
became the sky

 

(originally published in The Inflectionist Review, 2018)

Baggage Claim

Planes fly in circles
all day, all night.

You traveled alone, again.

There’s always one bag
no one claims on the belt.

Movement stops, you wait
in the airport’s clinical lights
while conversations blend to a drone.

Beach bracelets and t-shirts in tow,
others wait for rides in the river of cars.

Passengers from other planes filter in
and tend their incoming sheep.

There are destinations,
but don’t rush.

 

(originally published in 50GS, Winter 2018)

In a Mouth / In a Pool

there’s nothing but teeth
and sky and sharp wind shrieking
out until slapped / skin and sunbreak
risen water suspended after a cannonball
plunge / eyes closed we split
through chlorine like we’re chemically
bound / to renewal but how artificial
we fill ourselves with air and float / eyes
up at the clouds and a single plane
descends / toward LAX and we know
how it ends: a little shake / in the landing
and diminished speed recalling
the turbulence / that dove
from glass mansions

 

(originally published in After the Pause, Fall 2017)

Plane Delay

You learn your plane
has been delayed
again.

You remind yourself it has nothing to do
with you. The cause must be
something mechanical– a loose cap or

calibration error. The crew
does not have to say it’s not you,
it’s us because by now you know

the sigh of steel wings, how planes take
a while to ascend anyway.
How insignificant– this delay

stretches hours and a kind
voice speaks through white
noise on the loudspeaker like

she wants to say there is something
we can do to make a difference.
The plane will have the sky when

it is ready. Until then,
do not say it is broken.

 

(originally published in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 2016)