If today, he wanted a ticket to hell
the poet would be ascending on Jet Blue flight 222
flying over the States at 3 AM to meet the sun,

losing an hour over Kansas, another over Indiana.
High up in the frigid altitudes, he’d find us —
frozen up to our necks in narrow rows.

Arms, legs bent, we stare at seat backs,
with small screens pitching sunrooms,
vacuums, yesterday’s news reeling over and over.

Blasted vent air, those thin black shields
that bind across my eyes. I cannot shut
out the drab interior, the whinge of the engine.

Every shift brings me up against a thigh, a sweaty arm,
the river of forgetfulness way out of reach.
But the worst torment is yet to come.

One by one, the overhead lamps blink out
as heads loll against crumpled blue pillows.
I hate every one of those who sleep, especially

my lover, his mouth gaping, his little gasps for air.
Craning above my strapped body, wide-eyed and wearied,
I gnaw on dry ration — pretzels, nuts, blue chips …

Finally, a slit of light under the shade and
a host of red-eyed Virgils coming by with warm wet towels,
and yes, the now redeemed Dunkin Donuts coffee.

First Published in Off the Coast