Monday, April 20, 2009


We're stuck in a purgatory hell
because we were two minutes late 
for a 7 AM flight. Perhaps seeking words.
my lost penknife mysteriously
reappeared like a calyx in the spiral ring of my journal
and Homeland Security took it far too seriously.
No matter that I'd turned my backpack inside out, 
spilling its guts on the bed,  trying to find it.

I yelled but it was my grandfather's
just take it, we'll miss our flight
the guard, trying to assuage my tears, 
said you can mail it to yourself.

We ran the long mile to the gate
and were bumped from 6 standby lists 
to anywhere in the Bay Area. 
Our luggage boarded the first flight
and arrived unchaperoned.

Like the movie says, 
leaving Las Vegas is indeed hard. 
Very Bukowski as in Barfly. 
Every flight was overbooked
between the Miss USA pageant in town,
and the world's largest horse show,
people milled like cattle, played the slots,
or slept it off  beneath the pay phones.

I won a nickel jackpot: wow, 35 cents. 
Last of the high rollers, stick in Vegas. 
Five more jackpots to go
and maybe I can buy a cuppa coffee.

Maybe we'll get lucky this time. 
Catch the full LA flight, then another to Oakland.
Seventh time is a charm. Will we make the cut?
They announce our names over the loudspeaker
and we feel like we won first place or the jackpot.
A friend said she flew to Beijing in less time.

Already I miss the bone-handled penknife, 
a family heirloom carried a lifetime in the pocket.
Once young boys sharpened goose quills on it, 
carved their initials on the trunks of trees,
and I fixed meals and screws with that tool.
A faithful traveling companion in tight times.
Now all I can offer is a few bone-dry words.
I can scribe no remembrance 
or scratch feathered flights of fancy, 
except on the steel wings of planes 
carrying us homeward into the west.


And this poem is oh so not working. In hindsight, I should've written an ode.
Take two.

Ode to my lost penknife
that once rested cool
 and sleek as a minnow
nosing in the murky depths 
of some boy's pocket
The antler handle, chipped, 
diamond cotterpin askew,
Siamese twinned blades 
that once sharpened goose quills
or carved initials in desks 
and on the slender trunks of trees,
that sliced eggs, cleaned fingernails 
and pared apple cores, in that order.


first draft

We're stuck in purgatory because we were two minutes late for our 7 AM flight. We've been bumped from 5 standby lists to anywhere in the Bay Area. Like the movie says, leaving Las Vegas IS indeed hard. Very Bukowski as in Barfly. Maybe we'll get lucky 

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