Sometimes I wish I were still out on the back porch, drinking jet fuel with the boys, getting louder and louder as the empty cans drop out of our paws like booster rockets falling back to Earth and we soar up into the summer stars. Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead, bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish and old space suits with skeletons inside. On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness, and it is good, a way of letting life out of the box, uncapping the bottle to let the effervescence gush through the narrow, usually constricted neck. And now the crickets plug in their appliances in unison, and then the fireflies flash dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex someone is telling in the dark, though no one really hears. We gaze into the night as if remembering the bright unbroken planet we once came from, to which we will never be permitted to return. We are amazed how hurt we are. We would give anything for what we have.
Tony Hoagland - 1953-2018
Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet
At this height, Kansas is just a concept, a checkerboard design of wheat and corn no larger than the foldout section of my neighbor's travel magazine. At this stage of the journey I would estimate the distance between myself and my own feelings is roughly the same as the mileage from Seattle to New York, so I can lean back into the upholstered interval between Muzak and lunch, a little bored, a little old and strange. I remember, as a dreamy backyard kind of kid, tilting up my head to watch those planes engrave the sky in lines so steady and so straight they implied the enormous concentration of good men, but now my eyes flicker from the in-flight movie to the stewardess's pantyline, then back into my book, where men throw harpoons at something much bigger and probably better than themselves, wanting to kill it, wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt to prove that they exist. Imagine being born and growing up, rushing through the world for sixty years at unimaginable speeds. Imagine a century like a room so large, a corridor so long you could travel for a lifetime and never find the door, until you had forgotten that such a thing as doors exist. Better to be on board the Pequod, with a mad one-legged captain living for revenge. Better to feel the salt wind spitting in your face, to hold your sharpened weapon high, to see the glisten of the beast beneath the waves. What a relief it would be to hear someone in the crew cry out like a gull, Oh Captain, Captain! Where are we going now?