Oh, The Joys Of Travel! - Poem by Les Derbyshire
Take an airport, any airport.
Yes, any airport,
From Bangkok to Baltimore,
They’re all the same,
I could be anywhere in the world.
A place of limbo,
Of suspended animation,
A criss-cross hubbub of humanity
Intent on being somewhere else.
Fingers crossed against the dreaded excess baggage,
“Did you pack it yourself? ”
“Has it been out of your sight? ”
No - worst luck!
“Any livestock, explosives, aliens……? ”
Zip it! No smart comments!
It’s not funny!
Ah, here’s a new entertainment:
Drink up your excess liquids before ‘security’.
Remove your shoes.
And your coat.
Take your laptop out of your bag
Put your cellphone into your bag
Any keys or coins?
You’ll have to take off your belt.
Now, boarding card please!
On board at last.
Excuse me, I think you’re in my seat.
Interminable wait for the passenger due in from Bogotá
Whose flight was delayed by bandits.
Push back from the gate
And the complimentary mystery tour of the airfield.
(Has the pilot lost his way already?)
Ah, this looks like a runway.
“This is your captain speaking…”
Shouldn’t he be concentrating on driving this thing?
“The outside temperature is minus 53 degrees Celsius…”
We really wanted to know that.
“The present time at our destination is 3.15 a.m….”
We shall arrive too late for lunch but feeling like it’s bedtime yesterday.
“So just sit back, relax and enjoy the flight….”
I intend to.
Life continues - but not life as we know it;
A suspended life above the clouds.
The cabin crew about their business
As though this is normal
This floating in the air.
The trip to the loo – just to move about.
The conversation with a total stranger while you wait:
Where’re you off to then?
Been there before?
Oh yes, dozens of times!
Bit of a bore really.
Watched all the movies,
Played all the games,
Eaten up my steak tartare and drunk the red wine,
Snatched a few minutes fitful sleep.
Six miles up in the air,
Every minute passing over six miles of earth-bound souls
Looking up and wondering where we're going,
Or not - we're commonplace, unremarkable,
Another silver dot tracing a white scar across the sky.
Just dozing off again and
“We are now starting our descent and the captain has turned on the seat-belt signs.”
Come out of the loo.
Sit up straight and put everything back where it was.
“In compliance with regulations the cabin lighting will now be dimmed.”
Thank goodness, half an hour more sleep.
Except the pressure in my ears won’t let me.
And back to earth with a bump.
And the day-lit night-time zombie walk
Through the endless corridors to baggage reclaim:
Please, please let it not be still in Seattle!
And the held breath through Customs,
Yes, the drugs are on prescription,
They’re for my paranoia.
Then, having promised that I will go home again,
I emerge onto the streets
Of the real world.
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