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On arriving at the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Airport - the period of cosmography
On arriving at the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Airport
But for the haircut, uniform, and gun
you couldn't tell them from the Poles and Germans
you just arrived with, flying with the sun.
They are their nation's face. It is proclaimed
on posters hanging from the booths they man.
You wait in line as each of them determines
who is with them and thus is not against;
who may come in and who is under ban.
These are the heartland's people, barely tamed.
Hard working people, friendly and polite
whose idealism can be clearly sensed;
their dreams America's their heartbeat hers.
Their stance denotes well meaning yet confers
the fact it doesn't take much provocation
to make them bare their teeth and bring about
their stern and merciless determination;
That tool their forebears used to take the land
and keep it, never questioning their right.
They welcome you, admit you with a smile,
but once inside, you're taken by surprise:
Is this a place you have already seen?
The decor's barren flair, the carpet's hue,
are thirty years at least behind in style.
Outside soft clouds are grazing pastel skies.
The sun by virtue of its flawless glare
has set the air to quiver casting doubt
on the solidity of what's in view:
The fading buildings, hangars, airplanes diving
or rising from the cracking pools of sheen.
These sights, the signs, the very words they bear
arouse in you a quaint forgotten mood,
like scents of childhood's day smelled once again.
You wonder at this feeling and conclude,
you might have travelled farther than you'd planned.
“Perhaps”, you tell yourself, “you are arriving
at L.P. Hartley's foreign country: Then”.
7 comments or Leave a comment
joculum From: joculum Date: August 15th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
brilliant. a few technical glitches: should be a colon, not semicolon, after "by surprise," or a lower-case "is"...I think the colon is preferable. Likewise, the semicolon in the final line looks like a typographical error for a colon, though I'll have to look up L. P. Hartley to catch the full meaning of the punctuation...the problem with super-referential poetry like thine and mine.

But I am pleasantly reminded of Derek Walcott's "The Gulf" when I read this.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: August 18th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the praise and thank you very much for the corrections too, both make perfect sense and I already worked them in. The reference to L.P. Hartley is the opening of "The Go Between": "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there".
lizjonesbooks From: lizjonesbooks Date: August 18th, 2007 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well said.
*heavy sigh*
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: August 18th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, but don't sight too heavily unless it's out of nostalgia :) This was my first trip to the Midwest and my very first impression was very reminiscent of how it felt to travel to the US in the seventies and early eighties. Of course the first lines allude to the current situation, but my intention was not to comment on it but to accentuate the contrast between present and past. Maybe I misread your comment, but I am very curious about the effect the poem has on Americans. I definitely liked it a lot in Ohio.
lizjonesbooks From: lizjonesbooks Date: August 18th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the US, too-- just not the current political situation. I also reminisce about simpler times(though perhaps I'm only remembering the naivete of youth). What's hardest about the current state of affairs for me is that I find that many of the people I love are on the other side of the fence.

Partly I'm angry about the actions of the American government (and the ease with which its people have been led to support those actions), and partly I feel like the division of the country into "red and blue" is part of that same calculation, and the real challenge is to bridge the gap and see each other as whole people, not symbols of what is right and wrong with the world.

I'd count myself "blue" and a "card carrying liberal" as various administrations would label me, but, in truth, I really feel like I'm standing in the middle waving a white flag. I try to fight down the urge to battle almost daily and try to see the person I'm talking to, but I don't always succeed.

I think I understand a little better than I did many years ago how people come to a point of civil war, as I find that righteous rage rising within myself, unasked for.

I try to remind myself that it's just the same old beast that's been within us since the dawn of time, but it can be a hard separation to make.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: August 22nd, 2007 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I know how you feel. Perhaps the greatest disservice the current government has brought to the county is the division it has brought about in the population. Both sides love the US but the government has managed to convince many people that love for America is the same as love for their policies. It must be very frustrating to be constantly under suspicion of lacking in patriotism just because you don't subscribe to your government's opinions. But this shall pass too, cheer up.
lizjonesbooks From: lizjonesbooks Date: August 22nd, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes... and hopefully it will pass sooner rather than later.
It's not the suspicion of unpatriotic behavior that bugs me so much-- I come from a long line of zealots(well, OK-- a few generations back, but still) and bear the accompanying disinterest in what the government thinks of my views.
Mainly I'm just ashamed of us, and I feel sick when I see all that idealism you mention in your poem(and I agree that this is part of being American, though I feel sure it's present in many other places as well) turned to such twisted purposes. I really hope the next admin will be able to repair at least some of the damage-- but I think it will take a long time.
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