Dear Drowned Wings,

Apologies for sending so many letters, but how am I to stop worrying about you, buried blind under that black water, easy prey for hatchet fish, viperfish, spookfish, bristlemouths, all those ambush predators? Even if you don’t care about us, how can you rest down there

dear you, with your excessive wingspan, your polimer construction, your extended slats, loaded with 227 passengers, 12 crew, your hold full of luggage.  You who climbed 35,000 feet and vanished from tracking records while still climbing, dear 777, they say I should let you lie

with the government that guarded your secrets, your black silk underwear, your clandestine terrorist lover, your hidden hijacker, your inner fire, dear you who turned back when you should not have turned, unless

there wasn’t a spark when there shouldn’t have been, the pilots didn’t asphyxiate, didn’t lose their minds, if

there was a secret mission, if you crossed the Indian Ocean, climbed Everest, and landed somewhere on Shangri La, if you would write back to me, dear you, so much to answer for, you

carrying my friend, flying for the first time, still grieving.  She’d even named the baby.  When you took off, how your light reflected onto her face.  How she yearned for you to lift her over those mountains, across that water.


On the Forty-Third Night

You come back for me oh
you swallow me
drowning lungs fighting
blind nails drawing
unreadable blood
you once told me
your shufa symbols
can create miracles
can they

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.