Two Poems by Valerie Witte

These two poems by Valerie Witte, excerpts from her manuscript “hold short bravo,” are inspired by the disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370 and examine the process of dealing with the aftermath of human error and confusion, the profound repercussions of miscommunication, and the political mechanisms at play around us daily…

by: Valerie Witte

\\epiprologue\\

don’t you remember

you are on the wrong side

steered off course deliberately the search is……….suspended

like a puppet she wanted

to pull………………such maneuvers due to systems manipulated

7 hours, 30 minutes the engines burned

lighter

you read 370 as OLE upside

down a plane flown thousands of miles

into the ocean

so much rides on……………………………wanting

to identify moss on the rocks

but you wouldn’t be……………………………………together anyway

as two crows or maybe…..the same

almost hit you………………..what wings

continually interrupt adjust to maintain height, speed

a normal flight impersonated

zombie flight

are we too empathetic or the characters we play

giving boys balloons on a plane

small but detectable………shut them up, nicely

lips swollen, eyes

are you feeling better now………….escarpments rising

plates fracture

a transponder is a portmanteau

did you hear the one about two uteruses you

just want to collect them accelerating swoops

only 10 percent of the ocean mapped

but you don’t want to think about

an underwater mountain will exert more

sway……………………..a future airplane that loses it

would still…………………………………………disappear

 

\\now\\

when a thing turns

round &

a thing keeps

turning into

something is something still

a thing stopped….or

it’s getting harder to remember being

a thing might

materialize there

could be something

like a plane

up there

why go to the trouble

to hide if suicide if

a weapon why

fly so long

beyond

six arcs hourly before shutting

down……………….one of two corridors

on autopilot submersibles

scour the floorfor……….an underwater

debris field……..some more optimistic, some

less

in the next………room a conversation with another

or yourself…………………..when “reworking” appealed to you

it’s a good idea…………….to hear

what losing sounds like

the trick of disappointing

determining what’s worse

nesting or taking………….flight

what you mean by a mind

a measure of change, offset…………………burst

frequency in the wavelength you

want to talk about love & not be

boring if……………the southern arc lay

if every ocean

if everyone carried

bags of fruit then

all are certainly

\\

downed beyond

reasonable……….doubt there are

no

\\

bottles at the embassy……………….thrown

agents in plain

clothes…………….low-flying

you thought

he was leaving you……….he said he was………….leaving

you……..people can vanish…………or corral

onto buses……….we await you at home with tears

placards handed matching

for months never…………………………to return & you start……how

would you……………………couldn’t do this alone you’ve never done any of this………….alone

t-shirts………….like contrails

please………………………..come………………………..back

 

Notes:

Italicized lines have been adapted from the following sources:

 

Valerie Witte is the author of a game of correspondence (Black Radish Books, 2015) and The Grass Is Greener When the Sun Is Yellow (The Operating System, 2019), a collaboration with Sarah Rosenthal. Her work has also appeared in more than 30 literary journals, including VOLT, Diagram, Dusie, Alice Blue, and Across the Margin, She has participated in artist residencies through Ragdale Foundation, Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, and La Porte Peinte in Noyers, France. She is a founding member of the Bay Area Correspondence School, and for eight years helped produce many innovative books by women as a member of Kelsey Street Press. In my daytime hours, she edits education books in Portland, OR. Read more at valeriewitte.com.

1 Comment

  • Maybe I’m crazy. I heard a start/stop/stutter in the poetry, a rhythm suggestive of an engine that’s failing, trying to restart, failing, trying again. If not for the reference to Flight 370 I may not have heard that at all. These rhythms are interesting to a drummer. I try to count them off, find out the beat. I’m still trying. Good stuff, ATM people. (I know you’re disguised aliens but I won’t tell anyone.)

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