“Dispatches from the Dream of Personal Flight” by Eric Kocher

Eric Kocher


It is my first winter home and the moon
appears as if it doesn’t understand its place
in the strata of heres and elsewheres.
I am getting high because I know how

to be part of a body that leaves itself
for something ethereal. I think of Laika,
the dog we sent into orbit, the first Earth
born organism to leave the atmosphere,

all of the commands she might learn:
sit, stay, how to become a satellite.
The story goes like this: she survives
the ascent but only lasts a few hours

before her heart beats itself silent,
how she remembers the cold
streets of Moscow and they howl
for her to come home.

I think of all the planes with their turbine
groans, proof the voice can spiral
out of control, that we can still
be heard long after we’ve passed.

There is a theory some insects navigate
according to the relative position
of the moon and this is how easy it is
to get lost in the electric glow of streetlights,

to hold onto the idea of some bright shape
thousands of miles away from here
where there is no such thing as night, or winter
for that matter, and home is how close

you can get to the sun before you remember
Icarus, a river of sky, a river of hands,
and your wings are gone, incinerated,
and perhaps you continue upward

like a cartoon whose universe is drawn
by a sea that trembles
only if acknowledged and a space that opens
and continues to open infinitely.

I too am trying to escape. I too am full
of waves that are breaking. Here the air
is always moving and when the trees shake
I think of the wind-chime

my mother made of seashells. My mother
made of glass. The woman who drove me
to the E.R. after I tried to parachute
from a tree with a bed-sheet,

she explained that there is something
we are always avoiding, the moment
at hand, for instance, where I am
smoking a joint on the roof

of the same house I grew up in,
where I am writing this poem
because it requires a sort of downward
motion to exist. In one of my lives

I slide off the roof like a sheet of ice.
In another I was already falling.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008
Tribute to Cowboy & Western Poetry

Rattle Logo