Lay for the Day1st
Korean Airlines flight KAL 007, bound from Anchorage, Alaska to Seoul
in South Korea, is shot down by an interceptor of the Soviet air force,
and plunges into the Sea of Japan with the loss of all on board.
High in the cold and rushing, before-morning
Dark, mercy was not shown. Sleeping, yawning
Into the unknown opening of the
Immediate future, lit so softly,
Two hundred and sixty-nine lives waited
To get off the plane, anticipated
Or doubted, in dreams or out, elated
Or troubled. Who knew they were fated?
They cross the alert, ever-dreaming
And the star-fighters drop their magazines,
Stub cigarettes and run for their machines.
With combat gear they put on pride and fear.
Now we know more. They flew
too near hidden
Suns and burst in flames from the forbidden
Air. The air itself continued to chase
Smoothly away from the forbidden place,
But the water broke and received burning
Wreckage, bodies, bits, engines still turning,
Which it gently embraced and took to heart.
They suffered and died and have played their part.
Scattered, floating or sunk,
The non-arrivals do not know their cold
Flesh turns solid political gold
Nor hear great mouths mourning them with warnings.
We hear that we are angry.
That lusts after Justice wants to rape her.
Our most glorious comrade rises from bed
Today with the world falling on his head,
Which may yet crush him flat. He picks a hat
And heads for the office. A dying cat,
Once, squawling under the wheels of a truck
Another of Gods creatures out of luck.
One idle thought, remembering
Can bring cold and rushing dark to us all,
A high wind to break you and make you fall
In the end, if your head will not bend.
So spare your judgement, heads
of state, until
Weve seen your tears. For if they wouldnt fill
One silver salt-spoon and they do not yet
What do you propose to bring and set
In the scale-pan? Let the fathers wife,
Brothers sister, mothers son and daughter
Bring tears drawn from the well of each life.
Fire and air weigh nothing against water.
If you dont know pride
and fear are the cause,
If you dont know whats ours and theirs is yours,
Then no sleep will creep past your locked doors
One night, and you'll lie, startled with remorse,
Going down, feeling the great unfeeling.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar