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Poetic License: Icarophobia

By Staff | Sep 27, 2013


Am I afraid of flying or falling?

The sight of the plane stuffs Adam’s apple

deep down my throat, heart plunges into belly.

Forehead sweats ice.

Fumbling for photo ID, bumbling shoes

removal offer nervous respite

and comic relief- like humor at a wake.

Boarding’s announced, I ask for a second vodka.

Front window seat delays my boarding

till the very end.

Am I afraid of flying or falling?

Clumsy taxiing, ominous minutes

on runway, menacing roar,

ungainly heavier-than-air lift and climb.

Am I afraid of flying?

Cruising at height that could piss off Apollo,

seat belt lights chime off – what about hubris?

Third vodka relief due within minutes.

After each air bump I wonder

how we stay up without propellers,

trapped hot air or flapping wings.

Am I afraid of falling?

Third vodka magic:

Adam’s apple and heart pop back in place,

brain buzzes, soars with bravado-


In the pocket size toilet I calculate:

my urine skims over Earth at 722 feet

per second, plus or minus relativity.

Snack time. I toy with possible headline:

Doomed Passenger Ate Hearty Breakfast

of Salted Peanuts.

Turbulence tumbles my euphoria down

into panic, my wife squeezes my hand

in reassurance, seat belt light snaps on.

I am afraid again of flying and falling.

“Journey’s end lies round the bend.”

Apollo’s chariot shaky as we descend

through dark towers of cumulo-nimbi,

Zeus flashing in the distance. I close

my eyes. Landing gear thumps into place,

aeeeons of suspense until tires screeeech

on runway and engines roar in reversal, then

graceful and grateful taxiing toward terminal.

Relief and hangover allow me to wonder:

Was I afraid of flying or falling?

-Joe Pacheco’s Sanibel Joe’s Songbook is on

sale at Macintosh and the Island Nook bookstores.