Twilight Flight from JFK
On transatlantic flights, I take
the express meal with valium.
I plug my ears, adjust my watch,
shuck my shoes, tug on the little socks,
puff my pillow, mask my eyes,
and drag the blanket to my chin.
Four ocean birds have learned to sleep
in air: European swift, sooty tern,
the noddy, and the man-o-war.
They can’t land on water: their feathers
soak up sea. A sooty’s head sinks
faster than a May-day jet.
Damn! Wide-a-wake. I wouldn't sleep
on water either: I'd set my course
then nod off 'til I reached...Tobi!
Good birdfood in the Japan sea.
Nice views for landscape painters too:
surf hissing spray...a cave’s white hair...
gray cypress crags...beaks...guano...blue....
The flight attendant taps my wing:
“Good view full now your windrow grave?"
I drop the mask, pull the plugs:
“Could you pull down your window shade?"
I envy birds that sleep in air.
Robert J. Clawson is a writer, a fisherman, a cook.
His formal education includes a two-room schoolhouse,
Kenyon College, Harvard, and Yale. He has had poems in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, The Christian Science
Monitor, and The Lancet (a British medical journal.) He has a poem
forthcoming in Southern Review.