40 Days Gone

This is when it does not help

to speak. Or to stay


silent. When the roosters

you drew come to roost


in the mud below the waves,

when your drowned plum blossoms bloom


and close. When your son

crouches on the floor, head in hands, below


a picture of your missing plane

on which he has written:


Dear father, please be back home

safely.  This is when he listens


for your roosters, blindly seeks

the scent of plum. When


we have no right to travel

with him. When prayer


when prophesy, when why

when the clouds slowly


write your name. When the sky

erases it.

A Lotus Flower, Fully Open

Long have I guarded you, the treasures

of the study.  My ink brush,

ink, paper, ink stone.  After the exhibition in Kuala Lumpur,

I drank shots of Xifengjiu.  Tonight, I sang in the airport bus.

Still half drunk, I boarded, ready

to carry you home.


When we lost communication, I held you, painting

the three symbols of crisis, ending

with an upward sweep.  As smoke began seeping

from the pilot’s cabin, I drew fire:  A tree standing

in flame.  As I breathed smoke, I knew I had to begin

the symbols to drag us toward death.  I wonder


in the thousands of years of our art, how many others have passed on

holding you, ready to finish the last stroke of

Those Who Will Not Be Found

Bluefin 21 is not blue. It has no fins. It looks

like a big, yellow bomb


with a beanie on top. It looks

for Flight 370 in the South Indian Ocean, diving down


14,800 feet. The South Indian Ocean is 15,000 feet deep.

Below the Bluefin, the dead plane


ferries 227 ghost passengers and 12 ghost crew

in their sea bed. Bound for a soft landing


in the black marsh at the center

of us all.

Seeking the Wreckage

They trawled the waters off Vietnam, the Strait of Malacca, the Andaman Sea. Detected the dying pings of a plane’s black box 15,000 feet below the South Indian Ocean. They say once that box goes silent, no one will find flight 370.

I say we send a deep sea lantern shark to shine its light in those black waters. To haul back a splinter of the plane. A tip of the tip of a wing. I say we hold it and mend it. Heal the cracks with gold. Make it whole. Too small for passengers. Too fragile to fly again.

I Curse

the candle I lit to pray for your life.  The plane.  The ghost of the pilot.  The air.  Anointing


the dying flame with the juice of the sourest lemon, I doubly curse

the boss who sent you to Beijing.  The TV camera

that captured my tears.  With my sharpest needle, stabbing


the anointed flame, I triply curse

the one who should have gone before you.  I beg, Please Lord, stop

         my empty heart.

Burning in the Air

I tear the shirt my daughter drew.

A girl.  A rose.

The garden we were then.

Dipping her uprooted cotton

into my last drops of water.  Struggling

to draw in air.  I

swaddle my face, swallow

my voice.  Begin to breathe

into smoke.  Into clouds.

Too close to her

to pray.  Too close to ask

to die

on the ground.

If I Could Take that Red Eye Again

I’d buy a magazine, a bottle of water, Tylenol.
The flight attendant would take my boarding pass.
It’d be morning when we reached Beijing,
the heavy air, the boys on bicycles, the daybreak Tai chi.
I’d sleep through the flight.
In my dream, the plane would never disappear.

I’d never disappear.
I’d read the magazine, drink the water, take the Tylenol,
wait for the night to pass
while I pictured the tarnished dragons of Beijing
gathering for daybreak Tai chi.
I’d warn those smoke dragons off my flight

snuff their lights, cut the sound.
Enjoy my business lady dreams.
Take my Tylenol,
wait for the miles to pass.
Listen to the plane say hello to Beijing.
Get ready to wake up for morning Tai chi.

Under Your Hands

They dug me from islands and continents, melted me, assembled me. My wings from Japan, my control from Britain, my rudder from Australia. And you, where did they assemble you?

You called me She. You laughed sometimes. Other times you sang, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” When I hummed, you said, Hello.

You flew me soft. So soft, I forgot. Forgot I was a wide body. A carbon-fiber polymer. I thought I was air. How

could I spark? I had never felt fire. As I burned

you did not call me She. You did not laugh. You did not sing. When I tried to hum, you said nothing. When you said

Climb, I climbed. When you said Dive, I dove. When you put me on autopilot, I flew. I flew for you through my own smoke

while my engines ran dry. While I shook and fell. While my wings left my control. Until we were no longer air.