The Improbabilities of Flight

by Dale Patterson
PenShells
Second Place, February 2015
Judged by Ned Balbo


I.
For thrills we trespass, park with lights out
on a private service road. Jets pass overhead.
Throttled back they drift to align with the runway,
winged zeppelins falling to earth.

II.
Mr. Hastings dashes X for unknown velocity.
Your snicker booms as he hands me the chalk,
says calculate an infinite number, make it
reasonable by rounding. In the silence
that follows I draw fragile stickmen.

III.
Reverend Knowles says I will abandon you.
My warrant for failure to appear fuels his belief.
I am reminded of something else he once said,
“a wee bit of faith will rise above doubt.”

IV.
Our heavy plane crosses Lake Michigan. I awaken
as your hand touches my face. We bank in a riff
of muted jazz trumpets, the shadow of wings
climbing hillsides of waves,
silver sunlight on water.


Four memorable lyrics that take to the air literally or metaphorically. From impossible-to-master mathematics to a Reverend’s remarks on faith and an airline passenger’s tender moment, we are transported. --Ned Balbo

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