FOR HELIOS AIRWAYS FLIGHT 522
Logic unhinges. Hallucinations
shuffle down the isles. A stray laugh
rises. Oxygen masks are little more
than decoys; we keep them strapped
to our cheeks, but can’t recall why.
Children hush, turn a dull blue.
Pilots slump across the controls
like scarecrows. The first nervous
dozen are luckiest, but after hours
of circling, we all quiet. Some swoon,
mutter as if gripped by nightmares.
A flight attendant breaches the cockpit
just as the engine is choked by flames.
Does he pant his last breath into a bank
of blinking lights, or meet the mountain’s
grey gaze? Do wildflowers flow down
the slope like a braid over a bare
shoulder? And does he reach out
to touch it, run it through
shaking, mortal fingers?
An aeroplane in the hands of Lincoln Beachey is poetry.
– Orville Wright
Stockings roll down; hair is unpinned.
Slim digits slip into my flying gloves,
cradle a helmet perfumed by hair tonic.
I draw gasps but slink out at daybreak.
Air’s the absolute, bears both gulls
and my crude craft, “a beat-up orange
crate.” Air wordlessly waits, its vastness
a dare, a glove swatted at my cheek.
So I must glide updrafts, plummet
to graze the ground with one fingertip.
The body submits, but it’s bloody, bones
heavier than hollow. So, it must breach
like a birth, sputter into a final spiral.
They’ll say I drowned, that it took hours
to fish me out by the suit I always wore
to fly. But they’ll do worse, grasping
the bars of a hospital bed, gulping
pudding from a plastic spoon. Better
to perform an aerial spin, misjudge
and get what they always expected—
swallow jellyfish and krill, midwifed
into blackness by silent, damp beasts.
WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
IN THE VOICE OF A MINOR DIETY
Feet wrapped in grave-gauze, I hunch to suck ink
off newspaper corners. So, tell me—war is spreading;
the latest madman pumped the morning full of bullets;
the ocean laps the toes of the Rockies. I used to float,
barely break a blade when I crossed the lawn, the choir’s
harmonies like bellows, a child’s sleeping chest. Then
I shrunk to a shadow, words an untidy clump of yarn
in my mouth. Pass the latest screen and light me from
below like a ghost story; give me the artless and brief,
no epics to draw up earthworms like a thunderstorm.
You’ve stuck too many grubby, doubting digits in my
direction. I’ll enter with the beggars, virgin-hungry
as a volcano; but I’d stop all this ill wishing, scanning
the horizon for quaking, if you’d just dig a coin from
your pocket, flick it, tenderly, down the storm drain.
Luiza Flynn-Goodlett migrated to the Bay Area, after completion of her MFA at The New School. She was awarded the Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry upon graduation from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Oberon Poetry, Meridian, Lumina, CALYX Journal, and Prism Review. She recently completed her first book, Congress of Mud.