midflight :: james k. zimmerman

that old man
because he can’t
get his bag down
from the overhead bin

because he can’t
unzip it with bulging
knuckles and neuropathic

because he can’t
find the whatever
he was looking for
in it with eyes
that don’t see as well
as they should
and thoughts that don’t
come so easy anymore

who has too many
chins and bags
under his eyes
and knees and elbows
that don’t cooperate
like good children
or well-trained cockapoos

who is chewing chips
with an open mouth
and salted tongue

who is blocking
the aisle so I can’t
get by to get
my bag down
from the overhead bin

that old man
may be several years
younger than I am
and not even realize it
until he gets off the plane

and we go home

after we deplane :: james k. zimmerman

someone has the job
when the pilot drops
the ponderous bird back
to earth, when passengers
and bags pour out
of its portals like eggs
from a spider or maggots
from an open wound

someone has the job
when the flight crew
thanks us, smiling
in so many friendly
languages for riding
over clouds and mounds
of brown and green below

someone has the job
when we come to roost
when the great bird nests
before it rises once again

someone has the job
of cleaning out the cisterns
that pend beneath the lavs
where we go to piss or shit
or vomit or just to stretch
our legs a little when
the seatbelt sign is off

and of course someone
knows the better job is up
in business class or first
someone knows to work
up through the ranks
to where the pool is clean
and clear and odorless

unlike the fetid mess
left behind in economy
by the rest of us