My alcoholism was never once suspected. I had made it a strict habit not to get completely bombed under twenty-four hours before flight. Much of the time outside of flying and the twenty-four hours prior to flight time, is obliterated. I have a home in Los Angeles, and I have a home Pittsburgh. I have had two marriages, and remember very little of either one. The one time I felt in complete control of my life was behind the instrument panel of a jet airliner with the hundreds of souls behind me having entrusted me to their care and survival. This act, this solid performance, I was able to keep up for close to twenty-five years. I will neither declare nor confess that in the air I ever felt any particular sense of power. Rather, I felt a peculiar place of belonging, as when, as a young boy, I had watched a Scout Master surveying the white tufts of a river from the shore before taking our small fleet of six canoes through the whitewater. He was reading the line. He did so with his human eye and one paddle held up to it like a rifle, tracing the flow of the river. Even with all the computerized instrumentation that will chart a course in the air throughout a flight’s journey, when flying I felt this brief sense of being alive as I had once felt canoeing. While human participation in the flying of such airborne crafts is nearly superfluous, as flying a jet is nearly automated, I must also believe that this respite of being able to live a life outside of my time spent on the ground had saved me from one of criminal madness, an accidental suicide, or some passionate murder.
Duff Allen is a writer who lives in upstate New York. He has an MFA from Bard College where he teaches writing in the Clemente Course for the Humanities. His work may be found in “Prima Materia” and other publications.
When Uncle was buried,
it was on top of Great-Grandfather
for the cemetery had long been full on the ground floor.
Uncle was able to meet Great-Grandfather
for the first time since he was seven.
Uncle was surprised by Great-Grandfather’s gingham dress,
which, Great-Grandfather explained, was Great-Aunt’s.
Being buried next to each other, they had
mixed together during their melting period.
They were looking forward to what Uncle would bring.
Would he ante up a new toe for the ones that were lost?
(Such is the absent-mindedness of the dead.)
Great-Grandfather/Great-Aunt also needed a belt
and memories of a colorful bird in a green, green tree.
They wanted again to see what the eyes see as they rot away,
the beautiful distortions of the earth.
Your hair is an answer to the light.
It is “no.” It is “scat!” It is “don’t
come sniffin’ round here no more.”
And so the light
must find another place to scavenge,
to curl into a ball and sleep restlessly.
The light sinks into your eyes,
nests in your mind,
casts shadows as words and nipples,
flickers and twinkles and sighs.
God, An Autobiography
I arrived in the town when it was dark.
The place was quiet.
The people hid in closets, unable to sleep for days.
What’s come before has changed this place forever.
There were accidents and an epidemic.
The blood turned to dust in the veins, stopping the heart.
This didn’t affect everyone—there were survivors.
Dirt in a flowing stream can remain suspended for eternity.
The bodies, as always, flowed down the river,
Were buried by more fortunate towns downstream.
The survivors are no longer men,
Only the shepherds in the fields still really exist.
Things I Remembered After Getting Off the Phone With You
The name of the new woman at work who dries up pens with her touch.
What I need from the grocery store.
There’s a movie I should tape for Rachel.
There was a sad note in your voice.
Ryan said to tell you hello. He’s thinking of getting a cat.
I never finished copying the cake recipe. All is incomplete.
I need to vacuum behind the couch for the needles I dropped there last night.
Your voice was a bright light—startling, beautiful, oppressive.
The litter box needs changing. There are bones in there.
You never finished your sentence on your reason for calling,
The reason your voice was 1000 miles out and sinking.
Danielle Hanson received her MFA from Arizona State University and now lives in Atlanta, GA. Her book Ambushing Water is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press. Her work has appeared in over 45 journals and anthologies, including Hubbub, Iodine, Rosebud, Poet Lore, Asheville Poetry Review, and Blackbird. Currently, she is on the editorial staff for Loose Change Magazine. She has edited Hayden’s Ferry Review, worked for The Meacham Writers’ Conference, and been a resident at The Hambidge Center. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.
Born in a Hindu society
Guided by the rites and norms,
He lived till the dusk
And the sands of time bided him farewell.
Now he lies here cold,
Overlaid by the white shawl,
He knows not, the decoration he has
The string that joins his toes,
Last bless of red mark, he owes.
Silent he rises,
With the green bamboo, he dwells.
Carried by his belongings,
Hurried for the voyage long
The holy river is ready for salvation.
Now he lies in the bed of pyre
His feet facing south,
There comes his eldest son
The authorized cremator
Bathed and holy
The farewell has started.
His son circumbulates him
Parroting the eulogy,
He knows not, the grains in his mouth,
He knows not, three lines drawn on him,
Dormant, he lies there ablaze.
“Time for goodbye, my mate
They knows not, you already have rebirth,
A different form of life by reincarnation,
They knows not, it’s your birth date,
Your wishers are mourning today
For the funeral of your birth date”
Arjun Dahal is 20 years old student of physics and mathematics at Tribhuwan University. His interests include physics, mathematics, music, literature and philosophy. This is his first attempt of publishing work in international level.