The cows soon got used to it.

Dos Passos



looking on forward at the head of the line
a hundred years after the ticket window

had to be there for the first time

in the aircraft industry that wasn’t there before

and the support industries that made cooking de rigueur

for Blondins up on high

as the sky is full of air


and a little bit more

and the Paris Air Show looks a bit grim they say this year

what with the economy and all

the terrorists against whom we have measures

designed to limit flight

and you must be naked some say

scanned bare as the jaybird

in the saying


so you won’t be flying there this year

on business if you don’t have to

which means less frequent flier miles

entitling you to go somewhere else

on the airline


and if you have to stop at Denver

why they may have your luggage sorted automatically

or not that is the system

with its bugs


where you’re going

is not the same

as once it was

there’s a topic of conversation

on hours and hours of flight


and when the plane crashes

titanium shields the data banks

the rest is smeared like mascara


walking along the bright headline-hunting reporters can’t get you wrong

they have sound recorders in their hands

so what you say is clearly heard

still politicians don’t speak freely

letting their words float on free air

but hire men and women to make phrases for the airspace

of a broadcast made of phrases

taking the air


after all

assurance double sure

is downright Shakespearean

and when all’s said and done

you never know what will keep the air

long enough to get you where you’re going

who reads John Dos Passos nowadays

he made the poem

to suit the anniversary

of the first flight at Kitty Hawk

the one a reporter got wind of and made up a story about

so as to be the first one with the news

in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

three cents per copy

the very next day


they don’t even need a wind tunnel

and test flights now

but have a computer test the calculations

and draw up a plane


there’s not much more money in flying than there is in poetry


one hundred years ago it still amounted to the same thing

what you were told about things

had to be checked

and everything that went up before

gave the clues

and there was the vector

the right moment

when you flew


the reporter meant well

said Bishop Wright

and glowered in the accomplishment

he didn’t stay at home whining

how we’d all been left behind

Eureka he reported the pilot saying

like the alchemist of old


in a hundred years Hollywood & Vine

became Bob Hope Square


these things take time as he might say
you don’t want to rush when so much is at stake

the camera pulls back on him tied to one

surrounded by villagers with torches

our beginnings never know our ends says Eliot