Category: Flight



You get to DC an hour and a half before you leave London
and Rod and I talked most of the way

Maybe it was the ‘69 Dom Perignon
they poured as soon as you took your seat
or the Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Pouilly-Fuisse
they served all through the meal

I do remember there were Arabs in
flowing white, and Burgess Meredith the movie star
and I showed the pretty brunette
my pilots license and got invited to the cockpit
where the pilots greeted me as brothers
even though the fastest thing I’d ever flown
was and Aero Commander 680E

Maybe it was the Taylor’s Special Reserve
twenty year old port they served with
the Cuban cigars (it was 1978 after all)

Maybe it was going more than twice the speed of sound
but I can’t remember a damn thing that either of us said.



Always an emigrant, never an immigrant
one foot in each country for thirty years
more running from than running to
more neither nor than either or

Always abandoning in some way
family, friends and dependable plans
and any constancy demands

Half desperate, always in search
for new ones who will give enough
and not demand too much

I keep my Canadian in Canada
and am careful when I pack

I stow my Texas twang at the border
and pick it up on the way back

Flying from Calgary to Toronto, Eda asks
“How come you’ve started to talk in a drawl?”

Just as the captain comes on the blower to say
“In order to avoid a big storm on our left
we are now flying over North Dakota”

Staircase – Faculty of Architecture at Warsaw University of Technology, Poland

The Möbius strip, also called the twisted cylinder, is a one-sided nonorientable surface obtained by cutting a closed band into a single strip, giving one of the two ends thus produced a half twist, and then reattaching the two ends.



Deep in the night the great horned owl
strokes silence with silence

If you land a small plane behind a 747
(Don’t land a small plane behind a 747)
If you land a small plane behind a 747
the invisible vortex from its wingtips
can toss you back into the air
or slap you hard into
the ground

Behind the great owl
the softness of its passing hangs in the air



John Gillespie Magee
slipped the surly bonds of earth
reached out and touched the face of God

Planes are bigger and faster now
I in my Aero Commander
commander of the air

Climbing at dusk have set the sun
on the lip of the world
and held it there

Have rode the Concorde
faster than the speed of sound
and faster than the earth goes round
that can lift it up where it went down

And there are times I’d best the lark
to try to hold or yet turn back
baby’s smiles and love’s first spark

I think Magee, the reverence would see
as we all fight the dying of the light
and try to touch the Sistine finger
a little longer before night


by John Gillespie Magee

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter silvered
wings; sunward I’ve climbed and joined
the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds – –
and done a hundred things you have not
dreamed of – wheeled and soared and
swung high in the sunlit silence.

Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting
wind along, and flung my eager craft
through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept height with
easy grace where never lark, or even
eagle flew.

And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand, and touched the face of

John Gillespie Magee Jr. , A young American, flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England early in WWII, and was killed shortly after he composed this poem.



Clouds are a part of living
and if you fly, a big part of staying alive

I remember an airport and the sky closing behind me
a brand new pilot’s license and no instrument time
a terrible, deadly, damn fool policy
I hope they’ve changed it

I had a few lessons from my brother
he told me about believing the instruments

Of course I didn’t really, actually, believe them
but I did follow the one that said “we’re right side up”

When my inner ear said; “you’re not,” “turn,” “turn or die”

And I throttled back and let the plane sink into the dark
we might land or hit something at less than full speed
and then there was a little space and a little light
and a landmark, and the lost ground was found

And the time flying from Calgary to Salt Lake
with two cloud layers twenty feet apart
and the big twin flying V.F.R. between
and the feeling in my heart

But the best is a grey cloudy day
when the whole world is too sad to play
and old mother nature seems to wring out her mop
and you have a little courage and you know

That there’s no place like the light
when you break out on top



Heading west for stampede city
doing two miles a minute through air
with a Chinook pouring over the mountains
and a rising feeling that you’ll never get there

You’re going slower and slower
over the rough wind swept ground
and you don’t want to land in that field
and of course, you don’t dare turn around

The needle and your knees
are all three on empty, knocking
and if you had a car, you’d pull over
get out the old can, and start walking

But you’ve made it, you land, and you park
and you know there’s someone you’ve got to thank
when the boys put thirty two gallons
in a thirty two gallon tank



Eight triple one Gulf, this is seventy eight Tango Sierra
how would you like to drop in to Grand Canyon airport?

We were flying Calgary-Phoenix; he Phoenix-Sun Valley
a friend had just lost an engine. He needed to land
and wanted a ride to Phoenix.

I didn’t know the runway but I followed him in

It’s not a very long runway and at the end
are some pretty big trees.

I was low and slow in the old Twin Commander
the one with the geared engines

The ones you always had to handle oh so gentle
like your throttles were a handful of eggs

So I played the game and brought in the power easy

Too slow and you eat the trees
too fast and you eat the pistons, and the trees

And it was a mighty pretty runway
when you were standing on the ground

On the way back from Phoenix It was late afternoon and we were lured
by the siren beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Right turn diversion, West to East as slow as we could go
Just below the rim the whole length of it
watching the magic colors as the sun
behind us lit up the canyon walls

Almost out of fuel we finally pulled ourselves away and
turned north to find a runway.

The wind was from the west and we had to land into the
blinding light of the sun just before it went down.

It was as if it had turned on us, this light that had made us
feel so alive, (although we had really turned on it) and was
about to kill us now because we didn’t have enough fuel to
go around and we had to face it
straight on.

With two pilot passengers looking out the side windows and
calling out heights and directions, and a little luck we got
down. And we felt good again, very good.

Always the turnings, always the changing, always the other
side of the coin. So many times in that part
of my life it seemed that the beauty and the
pleasure were but a thin membrane away
from the fear and the danger.