Tuesday, May 08, 2007


New York to New Delhi.

Flying over Minsk, I wonder:
is this the path they would have taken,
will take, the ICBMs that end
our world? Bad news travels faster
than the fastest plane. It takes seven hours
to get this far on commercial airliner –
an advance, I know, over an earlier age –
but not fast enough, still, to outrace
Death; no, not even in First Class.

How long do you think it will last,
the Apocalypse. Three hours? Four?
Less surely than the fourteen hours
of this flight, our little lives
held aloft in the air, returning to find
that we have missed the show.
Our beloved earth destroyed forever.
Or rather, not returning, having
no place left to land, but circling
the catastrophe of time, flying on
in a vacancy of dislocation
until gravity reclaims us.

And what of the day of Reckoning?
Will that too vanish between time zones?
For surely when the trumpet sounds
(as who knows when it may)
there will be those who are left
hanging in the air, uncounted,
unclaimed, strapped into their chairs,
reading the safety instructions again
and again, trying to discover
why the temperature outside
is no longer minus 60 degrees.

Idle reflections on my flight to India a couple of days ago. As you can see, I'm not the world's most optimistic flier.


km said...

The last line is LOLsome.

Gen. Buck Turgidson (or maybe Slim Pickens) would have enjoyed reciting this poem in his bath :D

Tabula Rasa said...

also nice and coincidental that you post this on the anniversary of 5/8/77.

Where have all the people gone, my honey?
Where have all the people gone today?
There's no need for you to be worrying about all those people
You never see those people anyway

Cheshire Cat said...

Most pertinent question: what's a grad student doing flying first-class?

Falstaff said...

km: I'm not sure Gen. Buck Turgidson was that into poetry, but yes, perhaps.

tr: Yes, I know. Saw your post about it after I put this up.

cat: I wasn't. I was just consoling myself with the thought that those b******s in First Class weren't going to have it any easier.