SPOTLIGHT: A Hard Homecoming by Richard LeDue

Bird Watching in Norway House

They don’t have pigeons here,
but there’s eagles, crows, seagulls,
and wild chickens (at least,
that’s what they’re called).
Even after twelve years, I miss pigeons:
how they sounded soft, while I stomped
to somewhere I don’t remember, how
they left elegant tracks in the snow
when bored with flight, and had eyes
that tricked me into believing
I had nothing to be afraid of,
so unlike a crow with a thief’s gaze,
an eagle scouring for prey
miles away, or a seagull ready to fight
its sibling for seven day old bread crust,
and if there’s a point to this poem,
it’s that I’ll never have wings,
having dreamed of falling most of my life,
but again, it’s all a matter of perspective
as long as I’m in the sky,
even if it’s just my binoculars telling another lie.

A grey sky says it all
without a single word,
even if it leaves me
searching for a way
to express sadness that isn’t heavy
as lead, while his cancer diagnosis
sinks in- my mind listening to the silence
that sounds a lot like the calm
before rain drops
spatter like pretend happy thoughts,
only for me to grind my teeth
underneath a practised smile
without realizing it,
while wondering what kind of metaphor
could help me most
look up, when what’s below
chasing lightning it’ll never catch.

Could Have Swore I Saw Schopenhauer
Working at the Winnipeg Airport

Airport security wanted me to remove my belt,
so I thought about asking for a drink first,
but everyone seemed to be in a dour mood.

I walked along, and the metal detector stayed silent
as a bored lover who wakes up in the middle of the night
too often to even turn on a light anymore.

Then they ask about checking my laptop,
and I wonder if this is when my life
turns into a poorly written comedy movie,

where I’m added to the no fly list
because of a defective computer battery,
only for nothing to happen and to keep moving.

The Miracle of Flight

Tin canned death
that would pollute a sardine’s dreams,
while watching clouds give dirty looks
because so many wingless beings
are seeing their private parts,
and then the captain announces
turbulence (his tone uninterested
like an angel practising harp
for an infinity), as some clench their armrests,
regretting the “goodbye” they said
to their loved ones
instead of “love you,”
or mumble to a god
they haven’t spoken to since Sunday school
years ago.

Envious of Travel Constipation

It’s easy to blame the diarrhea
on travelling,
but it was probably the ice on the plane,
mixed with water
instead of whisky (well known for its
antibacterial properties
by those looking for a reason to drink),
proving drowning
more complicated and airborne
than any of us wish.
Then the flushing can mean more too,
just like this poem.

Knowing Words

My son yelled above the stewardess
reading us the warnings about what to do
if we crash. He didn’t like when the captain
announced anything either. Most understood
why he did, knowing words like “autism,”
“spectrum,” and “disorder.” His uncle is dying,
but my son doesn’t understand things like cancer-
do any of us?
A 6 hour flight,
with one stop over in Toronto, just to arrive
to be greeted with death,
even if it’s inevitable as smiling through difficult times
because I’m too polite to be sad.


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