Reading Jane Austen at 37,000 Feet

A voice from the flight deck mumbles — something

about the weather in Boston — as the plane lumbers

into the dawning day above it all,

the sniper’s nest in the blue Caprice, endless

wars, dead hostages, suicide bombers

blowing nailed starbursts through sunblind busses.

Jane, how I welcome your astringent lines, sly

as a measured throw of cards on velvet tables,

the ordered games of Hartfield after dinner

while poor cold Woodhouse prattles on the dangers

of rich cakes, and pretty Emma schemes.

Sealed in dread six miles up, I enter

your safe art gladly, shaking the dust

of crumbling civilizations off my boot-soles.


From a new book of poems, In Praise of Old Photographs, Little Poem Press, 2005.

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