I find inspiration in truly odd places at times. But on this day I found that airplanes can be as inspiring as they are aggravating.
People are on planes—turnips in their seats,
auspiciously eyeing every passerby as
though the seated man’s reproval matters.
Patchworks of tweed, cotton, and polyester
flow through the aisle like a seamless
demonstration of lip gloss cars in a parade.
People twitch and swoon as they discover
in a way that suggests the flight is never going to end—
as though this is a marriage without a proposal.
They are betrothed by fate.
It is gleeful, whimsical or depraved
depending on the ticket number.
Some gloat over their seats
like the sixth-grade boy
in science class who landed the
most beautiful girl as his lab partner.
In his mind he thinks there might
be more than a beaker, Bunsen burner
and Petrie dish in their experiment.
Everything rides on the seats.
All comfort, discomfort, and sleep
depend on it.
People lean into the windows as
though they can slide between the layers of
plexiglass, while frantically typing out messages
like dueling dancers—
they are in window seats crouching like springs
that have been waiting one hundred years
for summer to break—like illness yearning for fever.
One speaks rapidly, as though his soul mate
has been dropped in seat 24b—
holstered on his hip,
and he only has two hours with which to woo her.
She feigns disinterest because
she doesn’t trust herself.
Most refrain from speech altogether.
They cower because they are afraid of what they
might say when their tongues unfurl
like scrolls with unfiltered personal testimony.
Some are afraid of their monstrosities, the way
perfumed flowers wilt when people
stare at them too long, recoiling from embarrassment.
Every person packs an assortment of concerns
in safe places.
Every silhouette leans forward, while the
setting sun drowns their shapes like love’s
emotion, hijacked by a jazz band playing
too quick for the drummer to keep time.
It all seems unusually heavy on planes.
We think it’s the proximity.
The co-location forces us to bear the
burdens of people we don’t know.
Maybe we’re just not accustomed to
feeling people’s souls.
Humans starve and diminish from the
while elbows inspect their ribcages
in uncomfortable ways.
There is treasure between the
third and fourth ribs.
It’s the thorn in our sides.
It’s treasure in the risky way.
It’s coveted in the private way.
All of this is ironic because
planes fight gravity, slipping
on its icy loopholes to make people
feel larger than they really are.
All they really want is
a lover’s hand to explore
their hair like a master
pianist, keying a baby
grand entombed in a
Run your fingers
through my hair
please. The flight