Monday, May 30, 2016

The Rocket Sled

Lt. Col. John Stapp rides a rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base.
Public domain image.

It's Monday, ladies & gentlemen, which means poetry day at my blog. So here's another poem from Counting Stars at Forty Below. This one is called The Rocket Sled:



The Rocket Sled

I stalked you in the Cold War, wanted you
to slip out the knock-out place where we met,
to cross over to the construction site.
You’d parked at the Cyclone where I’d seen you
that day you sold tacos, hot dogs, coffee:
workers bore their toughness packed in hard fat.
You smiled at me sure tricks turned in space and
irredeemable flesh speed you to love.
You still find surprises in the night words
when we shake with speed, fingers like tendrils
flutter your skin and moisten open eye.
We are each other’s ties on rushing track.
The sun’s ignition blast of light, certain
as steel beams against your bedroom windows:
the slant pries us from feigned sleep and crushed sheets
and the sweetness of the night gone sour. Our
faces disorganized and distorted
like that of the man on the rocket sled,
that video from the pre-flight space age,
which I remember as all too recent;
to you: an embarrassing reminder
of our age difference, the expired humor:
Chaplinesque, speckled, jerky, and broken;
something bedraggled and telegraphed in.
Head in a crash helmet palsied with speed—
tendrils of jet air reach into his mouth,
flutter his pockmarked cheeks and marble eyes—
the grim soldier essays to reach the moon.
The zoetrope of recent history,
the craquelure of aging Super 8
of astronaut or fallen president:
the viewer’s mind provides continuity.
Our nights converge with drunken amnesia
like the rocket man’s fearsome perspective:
two rails striving for one infinite point,
and disappearance on the horizon.