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About this poet

Joshua Beckman was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and earned his BA from Hampshire College, where he studied poetry and the art of the book. He is the author of five books of poetry: Things Are Happening (1998); Something I Expected To Be Different (2001); Nice Hat. Thanks. (2002), written with Matthew Rohrer; Your Time Has Come (2004), and most recently, Shake (Wave Books, 2006).

He has numerous books of translation, including the forthcoming Five Meters of Poems by Carlos Oquendo de Amat, and Poker by Tomaž Šalamun (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2003) which was a finalist for the PEN Poetry in Translation Award. He is also an editor at Wave Books, a poetry press based in Seattle and New York.

Ode to the Air Traffic Controller

Joshua Beckman
Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Townsville,
Belém, Durban, Lima, Xai-Xai planes
with wingspans big as high schools
eight hundred nine hundred tons a piece
gone like pollen, cumulus cirrus
altostratus nimbostratus people getting skinny
just trying to lose weight and the sky
the biggest thing anyone ever thought of
Acceptance, Vancouver, Tehran, Maui
school children balloons light blue nothing
one goes away not forever, in fact
most people, at least if you are flying
Delta, come down in Salt Lake City
Fairbanks, Kobe, Aukland, Anchorage
from Cleveland a hundred Hawaii-bound Germans
are coming in low, not to say too low
just low pull up Amsterdam pull up Miami
historically a very high-strung bunch
smokers eaters tiny planes must circle
we have bigger problems on our hands
New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris
the boy who has been ignoring dinner
throws thirteen paper planes out the window
does it look like this? Tashkent, Nome, Rio,
Hobart, yes yes it looks just like that
now do your homework Capetown Capetown
lots of rain good on one good on two
go three go four go five go six
Mau, Brak, Zella, Ghat, an African parade
good on two good on three
please speak English please speak English
good on five good on six gentlemen:
the world will let us down many times
but it will never run out of coffee
hooray! for Lagos, Accra, Freetown, Dakar
your son is on the telephone the Germans
landed safely Seattle off to Istanbul
tiny planes please circle oh tiny planes
do please please circle

From Something I Expected to be Different by Joshua Beckman, published by Verse Press. Copyright © 2001 by Joshua Beckman. Reprinted by permission of Verse Press. All rights reserved.

From Something I Expected to be Different by Joshua Beckman, published by Verse Press. Copyright © 2001 by Joshua Beckman. Reprinted by permission of Verse Press. All rights reserved.

Joshua Beckman

Joshua Beckman was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and earned his BA

by this poet

poem

Unslide the door,
uncap the lazy little coffee cup.
The pasty people must be part of the dinner.
And a city turns its incapacity in,
foolish city. She was naked
and her halo all crushed against
the pillow while she slept, but I
didn’t care. Wake and totter.
Place a hand over

poem
Seagulls beside ferry boat.
They're people-watching. 
poem
Oh, atlas
look
you forgot my island.