In the Event

If you are sitting in an exit row please identify yourself to a crew member to allow for reseating if you lack the ability to read, speak, or understand the language, or the graphic form, or the ability to understand oral crew commands in the language specified.

You maybe understand this but will you understand how to comply with these instructions, the instructions of our crew, who are fully authorized, and all the illuminated signs posted throughout the cabin?  Please locate them now.

If you are sitting in an exit row and unlikely if needed to perform one or more of the applicable functions then you must de-select yourself because only you know, finally, if you lack sufficient mobility, strength, dexterity to reach, grasp, push, pull, turn, shove, lift out, hold, deposit nearby, maneuver over the seatbacks to the next row objects the size and weight of over-wing window door exits, remove, reach, maintain, balance, stabilize, exit, and assist others.

You may lack capacities, have conditions, or be otherwise compromised, for example if you are traveling with a pet container that contains a service animal or emotional support animal.

You may feel yourself supportive, and of course that’s good, super, if you can perform the functions: locate, recognize, comprehend, operate, assess, follow, stow, secure, pass expeditiously, deploy, select, but most of all you need to want to, and if you do not no reason need be given, because what reason is there to not want to help on this long flight should something go wrong, terribly, obviously, or subtly, as when you ask for water and no water arrives then you haven’t been heard, Wilbur is lost to the frise aileron, the flight cannot in your mind continue, I mean you cannot adjust the airflow, temperature, cargo storage space is limited to what it is, there’s no room for more.

But why isn’t there? says Orville. Space is infinite, the limits of the plane are inside us as we are inside nowhere luggage shifting around the bags inside bags making, in fact, more room: ‘clarification through expansion’ writes the soul in paraphrase, and even as you make a very short turn, you never feel the sensation of being thrown but find yourself facing where you started from. The objects on the ground seem to be moving faster though you perceive no change in the force of the wind on your face. You know then you are traveling with the wind, the capacity of the ordinary opening beyond belief.

If you put your hand to the window now you feel the deep cold out there where no one is no one wants to be or can be even and this we know before experience and the expertise of those who learn from manuals you’ve never held, never located, recognized, assessed, or followed.

You may think that to help anyone you must be with no one that requires your care you must be willing to do all of these things by yourself and without harming yourself to be able to reach up, sideways, and down.

But your condition is not the event of an evacuation, but rather the capacities you lack to be an emotional animal going somewhere a great distance, past every echelon, to a place without command; an elevation, a knowledge, a knack tuning the instrument to its final pitch & yaw. 

When you look out the window what do you see?  The plane is probably flying level. But should the pilot find himself unable, or you do, you can take control by reaching over and holding the yoke in such a manner that miniature wings in the indicator stay parallel with the artificial horizon. 

Pulling back will send you higher where feeling becomes pronounced. That’s okay, lift should be equal, the door won’t open even if you yank on it due to the pressure.

Soon enough however, but not too soon; dream flowers drawn by moving veils is power (though naught be fairer than a dying nebula).

With time you understand, there are stars in the universe cold enough to be touched by the human hand.

More by Joshua Weiner

Psalm

When I sing to you I am alone these days 
               and can't believe it, as if the stars

--while gazing up at them--just shut off.
               Astonished:

I search out the one light, brightest light
               in the night sky, but find

I cannot find it without weaker lights to guide me 
               like red tail-lights on a car up ahead

after midnight when I'm sleepy, that illustrate 
               how the highway curves,

curving to a hook, and maybe save my life 
               and it means nothing to me

because nothing has happened, not the faintest 
               glint of drama.

(Raining gently, the tarmac turns slick, moistened 
               to life with renewed residues;

I can sense it with my hands on the wheel, 
               the drops--not too heavy--
			
drumming off-time rhythms on the metal roof, 
               the metal surface like a skin tense and sweating

and the road empty now, there are so many 
               exits . . .)

Where is my family, both hearth and constellated trail of flicker 
               I have always followed to your word?

There, but mastered by fear of dark compulsions 
               and loathing atrocities committed in your name,

they hit the dimmer switch and extinguish themselves 
               whenever I sing your praises. . .

Who can blame them?
               (I can't help but blame them.)

And anyway they are far from me
               (farthest when they come to visit)-- 
			
I should be self-reliant, in my armchair
               like Emerson reading by a single lamp;

I should not need them, finding in you
               myself, little firebug needing no outlet,

my soft light blinking as I oxidize my aimless flight 
               to love, to the good,

even my glowing chemistry unnecessary now 
               in the ultimate light of day.
			
But what good would that do me?
               With you, in you, perhaps others do not matter,

but this isn't heaven, and I cannot make a circle 
               all on my own-- 

Photon, luciferin, meteor: as I burn myself
               to pieces, I only pray

let my sparking tail remain a moment longer 
               than our physics might allow,

some indication, however brief, that there continues 
               (amen) a path to follow.

Art Pepper

Scared boy, he even fled a cloud
reminding him of what might happen

when his father returned from sea,
wasted, to find him perhaps again

locked out in the cold, waiting
for other drinkers to come home

(his mother, her lover)--the catalysis
of routine violence passing close

like a storm cloud insisting rain;
until the rain did fall

and the father left, returning though
once with a clarinet . . . 

And when the cloud came back
in the sound of a memory

the boy had grown, had learned
to let it swell into the note

he now holds in me

as a laser reads his tone
mastered for fidelity--

sweet prismatic splinter and 
swing, a double-timing scrape

aiming for my ear 
alone in a rented chamber.

Nowhere, 
       and I'm with him,

fully in tune as if he stood
hot before me, his life

seeming no more dear to him
than the sax he hawked

for any kind of syrup
he hoped might creep into his heart

like fucked-up love that felt like love
in the belly meadow warmth of his measured joy.

Hungry Art, Art of wind,
of lips upon the reed;

Art of blue, foolish Art,
would you be so nice to come home to?--

Bragging his genius
for a time turned rancid in San Quentin,

swaggering with a ripped-off thuggery honor
and sick with the terror of not seeming criminal . . . 

White man junky thief
whose skin glowed narco-green

with the sound of Keats
amped through Pound

I repeat his name

jacked-in to the straight 
blowing of a life

clarifying 
like butter over flame:

what's home, where's harm;
how to fix; how praise--

Lover, come back to me.
Why are we afraid?

Mongrel Death Blues

What's that behind my back?
What's that gnawing behind my back?

It sounds like a dog crunching bones for marrow.
Bones here so old, the sun's dried up the marrow.
What kind of dog splinters bone like that?

Don't turn around, I hear it getting louder.
Don't turn, don't turn, its growl is getting louder.
Oh, don't you growl at me, nappy rabid dog.

My joints may be cracking, but my bones ain't buried yet.
I said, my skeleton is talking, but my bones ain't buried yet.
Hear my belly growling? I'm hungrier than I've ever been.

Are you baring pearly whites? I can almost smell your mongrel breath.
Yes, your pearlies, they are snapping, and I can smell your stinking breath.
I'd turn around and pet you, but I've given up on pets.

I am reaching for a stone.

I swear my aim is sharp.
I swear my arm is strong.

It's growing dark, but I won't miss.
It's darker now, but I won't miss.
O shine down moonlight, my whole life has led to this.

Related Poems

The Buttonhook

President Roosevelt, touring Ellis Island
in 1906, watched the people from steerage
line up for their six-second physical.

Might not, he wondered aloud, the ungloved handling
of aliens who were ill infect the healthy?
Yet for years more it was done. I imagine

my grandmother, a girl in that Great Hall’s
polyglot, reverberating vault
more terrible than church, dazed by the stars

and stripes in the vast banner up in front
where the blessed ones had passed through. Then she did too,
to a room like a little chapel, where her mother

might take Communion. A man in a blue cap
and a blue uniform—a doctor? a policeman?
(Papa would have known, but he had sailed

all alone before them and was waiting
now in New York; yet wasn’t this New York?)—
a man in a blue cap reached for her mother.

Without a word (didn’t he speak Italian?) 
he stuck one finger into her mother’s eye,
then turned its lid up with a buttonhook,

the long, curved thing for doing up your boots
when buttons were too many or too small.
You couldn’t be American if you were blind

or going to be blind. That much she understood.
She’d go to school, she’d learn to read and write
and teach her parents. The eye man reached to touch

her own face next; she figured she was ready.
She felt big, like that woman in the sea
holding up not a buttonhook but a torch.