Fear of Flying


Again the plane too low      too crooked again
over a field over our heads over the city's
jagged skyline     again the roar again the drone
the slo-mo silence       the sparks the
shock again the explosion the wingtip
brushing me in the plunge      I watched
from the ground always     until tonight     aloft
for once and angling down until the hands
of wakefulness yank me upward
             gather me soothe me take the tiller
murmur something soft you'll forget
by morning     sleep with your nose pressed
to the bone of my spine they call atlas     lift me up
             your body, most obedient machine


For God so hated
emptiness       he created
           the air, promise-crammed
and us to name it              cloud-
tangle, skytilt

Ease me, little pill
of language      altimeter
noctilucent                  dead reckoning
Make me more Adam than God
watching Eden unfold on the ground
rolling out from beneath my tongue


Trace it where you will

To Icarus

To window crack of broke-winged blackbird

To Christa McAuliffe and I am six
watching on the classroom television

But place me in the earth

Save the air burial

for the one who needs no arms
to take her in

Colleen Abel is the author of Housewifery, a chapbook. A former Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at UW-Madison's Institute for Creative Writing, her work has appeared in venues such as The Southern Review, West Branch, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Rhino, Cimarron Review, The Journal, Ploughshares' blog and elsewhere. She is currently the Joan Beebe Graduate Teaching Fellow at Warren Wilson College. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761