Of course the body wants to stay alive
And generate survivors unto the end of days,
Mused Baudelaire, his bladder somewhat awry,
Yet this old testament will not suffice.
“Water,” he growled to the flight attendant who
Hovered with false benevolence in the aisle,
And his sister gladly poured him half a glass,
Wishing it were warmer, but it’s always hot in Hell,
And he turned back to the window and beheld
Green England extend its southwestern leg.
And the new testament, brethren, why are we now
To subsist on hope, on charity and faith,
Unless, mon Dieu, they are inevitable?
“I refuse to get the joke,” he told himself,
“And I also refuse to decline the prize.”
Diana of the drinks-cart completed her cycle
And stood again nearby, one eyebrow raised.
“I thirst,” he said, and the airplane was no more.
(originally published in Tertulia, 2009)
* Editors Choice for National Poetry Day at Poetry Life & Times 21/03/16
R. W. Haynes has taught literature at Texas A&M International University since 1992. His recent interests include the early British sonnet, and he is completing a second book on the Texas playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote (1916-2009). In his poetry, Haynes seeks to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without sounding any more dissonant notes than he has to. In fiction, he works toward grasping that part of the past which made its mark on his generation. He enjoys teaching drama, especially the Greeks, Ibsen, and Shakespeare, and he devoutly hopes for a stunning literary Renaissance in South Texas.
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