All Aboard, Charles Tomlinson and On the 747, Malena Morling

I’ve been bouncing around the east coast for the last two weeks, and frankly, I’m spent. The only free time I’ve had has been devoted to writing rather than reading, so a true review will have to wait until Thursday.

I didn’t want to completely abandon you though, so I thought I would give you a little insight into my polar personalities when I travel. These two poems so accurately describe the experience inside my head when I’m using public transportation that it’s actually a little disturbing. On the one hand, I am a seething ball of passive aggressive rage toward anyone destroying the sanctity of silence I so often need after extended visits with family, and on the other, I’m ridiculously enthusiastic about the ability to bond with strangers under difficult circumstances. It makes no sense, I realize that. I guess the problem is that even though I love to play the curmudgeon, I’m just not that good at it…

All Aboard

All aboard and then
the entire train
breaks into phone fever and
intimacies of every kind
blossom into relations, revelations
as bosoms unburden themselves and stand
stark in that no-man’s-land of tattle
confronting the traveller:
I must exchange my seat and get
into the phone-free hermitage where I
can contemplate the self-sufficiency of trees,
the passing landscape and the sky,
but someone has anticipated me
and is talking into the mouthpiece of his machine
– the others are too well-mannered to intervene but I
tap his shoulder, tap again to snip
the unbreakable ticker-tape of his privacies
which have not ceased and do not until I lean
closer to indicate the to him invisible sign:
he lurches up and awake and gripping
his still unsheathed weapon makes
for the pollutable corridor. The others are silent –
disappointed: clearly they had been trying to filter out
the inessentials and impose their own storyline.
I had frustrated them with that fastidiousness of mine.
Too late for landscape now. I take out
a book too ruffled to read it –
close your eyes, there are no exceptional things
to surprise them in the dark out there.
I even fall asleep, then wake to the hiss of the brakes,
the shudder of resistance – we have arrived and so
I stand and step down into Gloucestershire in a Scotch mist.


On the 747

As soon as I sat down
the seven-year old girl
offered me gum
and showed me a postcard
of the airplane we were in.
She was writing her mother
whom she had just left at the gate,
smearing her love
in blue magic marker.
Then she pulled out a drawing
she had made of the wind
and one of a cloud
and a man who had ladders
for legs and eight arms
extending eight hands.
After the heavy body of the plane
lifted off the ground,
she held my hand and talked
about her flute teacher’s birds
and the eels she had bought
in a bait store and let loose
on the beach, each one
slithering into the dark
of the green waves,
returning to what she said
she could not imagine.


Neither of these poets have their own websites, but googling them will take you to more of their exceptional poetry.

One thought on “All Aboard, Charles Tomlinson and On the 747, Malena Morling

  1. Ugh, traveling in the east coast is an exhausting business. I’m impressed that you even made an appearance here. Good for you! Great poems, by the way. I think we’re all a bit polar sometimes. It keeps things interesting.

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