This is one of five poems I submitted to earn my spot in my upper level poetry class at the University of Kansas. I originally wrote it in 2008 or 2009 while in Dr. Greg Luthi’s Intro to Creative Writing class at Johnson County Community College. The title is the tail number of the helicopter I flew when I was in flight school down in Orlando, Florida.
✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦
I sleepwalk into my clothes,
khaki slacks, piqued cotton polo,
lucky hat, and cut down Corcorans:
Army boots, Airborne boots and hard,
sledgehammers for my feet.
The sun isn’t up, but Florida mornings
are hot, humid, a wet blanket.
The fifty-five mile-an-hour air conditioner
is useless at traffic lights.
Black tar, sizzling tar underneath
old leather soles, worn motorbike tires.
The city is angry and mean,
the streets its bruising fists.
Palm trees curl and reach
crooked, grasping fingers.
Concrete town, heartless town lurches,
chasing a numb sleepwalker.
The tarmac is a desert of loneliness;
aircraft shimmer, mirages of promise.
The helicopter passively waits
while I inspect her languid form.
Demanding soul, understanding soul, she watches,
a merciless lover beneath my fingertips.
Like a coiled serpent I sit,
a slouching knot of anxiety.
Switches click, engines purr,
and the headphones crackle consent.
Fearful wonder, heavenly wonder thrums,
our hearts thundering drums.
I melt, light on the skids and gone.
My heart soars, racing to catch up.
The birds and clouds welcome me home,
and we laugh at the chaos below.
Thrilling dream, waking dream of flight,
my soul a zephyr, awakened.