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Boarding Shortly

08 April, 2021: Boarding Shortly

Read a Poem

Boarding Shortly

By Hilary Plum

A mutual satellite still
locates us                    how
at the far sound of wings
you raise an arm
not a metaphor
you objected to but my need
for it                a map
recalling the drift of palimpsest
a line of ambulating tourists
and us              to say nothing
of the war you didn’t mean
to stop informing me of
            and a taste like soap
over stone before ink effaces
what isn’t the text       a site
from what had been your nation
here                 as if remembered
lilac as if interrupting
the overnight flight
I had no instinct
but an artifact of somewhere
you were calling
in photographs            each time
you turned
toward home

“boarding shortly” by Hilary Plum. Copyright Hilary Plum 2021. Used by permission of the author.
Hilary Plum is the author of the novel Strawberry Fields; the work of nonfiction Watchfires, winner of the 2018 GLCA New Writers Award; and the novel They Dragged Them Through the Streets. She teaches at Cleveland State University and in the Northeast Ohio MFA program and is associate director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. With Zach Savich she edits the Open Prose Series at Rescue Press. Her website is

Write a Poem

Describe a person you once saw at a departure area of a bus stop or depot, an airport terminal, a car rental lot, a taxi stand.
Leon Michaud
Standing Still

Barely able to keep still,
Every towering human
Leaves you in the shifting shadows
Of this fermenting forest.
So much driven activity
You derive your energy
Directly from this venue,
Little roots,
Assimilating stamina from the dwindling
Unoccupied spaces around you
Your expanding eyes scan
… All
… Around

Naïve to the ground crew's preparations,
Clueless of the maintenance workers antics,
Oblivious to the aerobatics
Of the hive of flight controllers,
You toddle your tiny shoes
On the shiny tiles,
Amazed that you embrace balance.

Gravity has given you a brief pass.
Tired now,
You grasp the closest recognizable
Pair of legs.
Your daddy is that man over there",
Waiting for the plane to Cleveland.
Have a nice flight little one!
4/10/2021 10:32:30 AM

"Fly in your drink"
Was not a pick up line
Friday night at
Denver's airport bar

Bought me drink
Which upset two guys
across from us
I could have been her older brother
They her father

We cheered
Wished each other safe travels
She gave them
A fake phone number
4/8/2021 9:45:56 PM

Sierra Polsinelli
The Old Woman
Sitting on the bench
Outside of the Yoga Studio
The oldest woman I’ve ever seen
White hair
Tied in a bun
Permanent stoop in her shoulders
Her face deeply lined
Her eyes sunken, hiding
They must be in there somewhere
Old blue, faded, calico dress
Gray sweater
Leather shoes with falling, scrunchy socks
Skin the texture of withered parchment
Old beyond reckoning
She looked up at me
and smiled.
4/8/2021 2:38:34 PM

They just left her standing there, this wrinkled paper bag of a woman. Awkward silence in the space around this parting.

They to their lives - more in front then behind.

Her to.... where now? She can’t go back, none of us can go back.

They can’t either but they don’t know it yet. She does.

Bag handle clutched with an iron grip

born of years of holding on. This she unconsciously will not release. It is what she has to hold on to now.

Her eyes searching for the next place to go back to.

Her jaw set
Her eyes moistly steel

She steps with purpose

As she always has.
4/8/2021 2:27:40 PM

"and a taste like soap
over stone before ink effaces
what isn’t the text "

I loved this line from today's poem, "Boarding Shortly".
4/8/2021 1:36:11 PM

Today's poetry prompt: A person you saw at departure:

Departure: Bendery Moldova 1992

Which departs first, shade or corpse;
our chat inaccurately transcribed last week at the embassy,
or what we’ve written today; the sunny week, or
the unanticipated rain cloud?

Eventually, one has to find the proper line to stand in
before an exit welds itself to that imperceptible breeze…
the slightest movement of breath, hand-twirl
and there you are…the train inside the wind
or mountains leaning against our feet like graves
before you begin to say good-bye.

The day was planned for leaving, not standing.
But we stood, forever: Mama with her bread,
Papa in his new shoes. Enough water for three days.
Two suitcases each; our train finally inside the wind,
not enough left behind to feed the vigil,
or commence searching.

That’s the strategy…
leaving a gentle, abundant silence in our wake
instead of the hopeful wave of an upturned palm;
in fact, no grain of language allowing endings,
shadow or atmospheric change was ever permissible.

Departure means:
stuffing a word from grandfather, grandmother
deep inside the pocket of a housecoat;
maybe something from our dead uncles, aunts…
…it’s impossible to remember their faces anyway, but voices are clear:

“Don’t stand too long, days are not for standing
be mystery, everyday
take it all, even Mama’s few pieces of bread,
Papa’s new shoes will do. Once you get there,
you’ll reappear, cleverly—
a beautiful vision waving inside a dream.”

© Tovli 2021
4/8/2021 1:33:53 PM

Bill Ritz
A Fat Lady Boards the Bus

She must live around here.
Worn shoes carry a lot of weight.
Probably someone’s mother.
I wonder who is her sex mate.

Her hair looks like its just been washed,
and her clothes are wrinkled but clean.
Why am I looking at this woman?
Don’t want my thoughts to get obscene.

What- leaving the bus already?
Can’t help but notice her large butt.
Now look who’s taking her place:
Slinky, shapely, dressed like a slut.
Wonder if I’m just observant,
or maybe I’m some sort of nut!
4/8/2021 11:46:53 AM

lawrence brenner
The crowd that surrounded us seemed miles away.
I don't remember her taking her arms from around me, just her
half smiling face glancing from the half frosted window of the moving bus.
I inhaled the last of the bus's fumes, as I waved goodbye to the sweet smelling memories of spring.
But then!
Spring comes every year.
4/8/2021 11:40:16 AM

Sitting side-by-side,
Giddy and talkative,
The couple chatted animatedly, awaiting the call to board their flight.
They never stopped talking,
Filled with so many words to share with each other.
Only each other.
They smiled at passersby,
But were, for each, the other's only one.
After more than 50 years of marriage,
They still had eyes only for each other.
And they still had so many words to share.
4/8/2021 10:39:09 AM

Young teens at an airport, having fun just being together, about to embark on a journey, starting with the event of a cousin's wedding, going from LA to SanFrancisco Memories being made never to be forgotten
4/8/2021 9:39:37 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.