Les Derbyshire

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.
“Coffee? ”
“Perfume? ”
“Turbulence? ”
No thanks.

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!
Seasoned travellers,
All ‘old-hat’,
Bit of a bore really.
Yeah, right!

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.
Belt up.
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.

Comments about Oh, The Joys Of Travel! by Les Derbyshire

  • (3/23/2009 4:34:00 AM)

    This is like a story within a poem. I liked the style and delivery. The subject matter is also diverse. The pleasure or not of flying. An overall view given. I particularly liked the first 4 or so verses on the dangers. Your poem brings home the importance of vigilance, but also the weakness of the human being who makes it all necessary. Great read
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  • (3/15/2009 6:37:00 AM)

    Secretary with desire in her eyes.
    You're off to San Francisco
    While I sit here with the rest of the guys
    You live it up where ever you go.

    Flying about at company's expense
    Nothing's too good for you
    For I've typed your listing of events
    Where it's a fantasy world come true.

    Back on the red eye once more
    Then early to work in the morning
    Getting to be such a chore.
    Need to smile and be charming.

    Next time I'll send her.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, March 14, 2009

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