About the poet
Gary Langford (b. 1947, Christchurch) is a New Zealand poet and author with more than forty...
What to Do in a Planecrash
Here we are on a flight into darkness.
None of us listen to instructors.
We are all experienced travelers,
Waiting to get at the drink and the food.
All of a sudden the engines switch off,
Though none of us do.
Some major in screaming, others in moaning.
Not being one to ignore a crisis,
I begin making love with the passenger
Who is thrown in my lap.
She responds with a slap,
Saying, this isn't the right moment.
Besides we haven't been formally introduced,
And she hates men who presume too much.
I tell her this is a serious mid-flight crisis,
Life as we know it will end before the in-flight meal,
So shouldn't we make a meal of each other?
As we only have a few minutes left,
She thinks about this for a second,
Undressing and joining in-flight activities.
Passengers claim death is no excuse for a kiss,
Let alone duty free shopping with each other.
The captain announces, there's engine failure,
A quick spiritual prayer might be in order
Before we abandon plane,
Causing people to abandon clothes,
Joining us in the life-rafts of each other,
Making love with a polite smile,
Intermingled with discussions on opportunities
Presented by an overseas trip.
There we all are in the rise and fall,
Shocked but pleased with ourselves,
When the engines start again.
Trembling with naked bodies
The plane straightens out,
Which is what we all think we should do,
More than a trifle embarrassed,
Especially me and the elegant woman
Who shows me a picture of two children,
Waiting for Mummy at the airport.
We all start to apologize,
Goodness me, whatever got into us?
It's terrible what stress does,
I won't be declaring this at customs.
Then, always having been a little mad,
Carrying a word or two in my old kitbag,
I suggest we continue speechless activities
In an appropriate intimate manner.
Quick as a flash we're at it again,
An entire plane of quivering bodies.
This is a flight none of us will forget,
Though we pretend we will,
Adrift as we exit with our luggage,
Especially the woman with two children,
Hugging them tight as a drum,
She's had a long exhausting flight,
She misses them, did they miss her?
She shakes her husband by the hand,
Surprising him more than me,
Saying she won't fly again for a while.
from Confessions of a Nude Revolutionary (University of Western Sydney Press, 2000), ), © Gary Langford 2000, used by permission of the author.
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