I smelled a rat
as soon as
der Kapitän said that
vee’d stay in Boryspil
for four hours at least.
The passengers groaned,
unclicked their seat belts,
and sank back in defeat,
as if the very air
were heavy with
(what else?)
a peculiar mixture
of German-Ukrainian despair.
Things looked grim
(the word schwarz came to mind),
but the time for heroism
had not or,
more accurately,
had not just yet arrived.
Wait and see was the thing to do,
and, indeed, a minute later
he said it was two,
and in another five
(mirabile dictu!)
just one hour of captivity
was left to endure.
In all honesty,
I smelled a rat again,
and just as the poor saps began
nodding knowledgeably,
and patting one another
on the head and back,
he suddenly said he had
eine sehr schlechte Nachricht.
Something was clearly afoot
and I smelled another rat.
Frankfurt was closed
(ganz geschlossen were his words)
and we’d be trapped in Kyiv
or did he say Kursk?
for seven hours or more.
Enough is enough, I cursed,
knowing that the Terminator
gets going
when the going
gets tough.
So I took fate by the horns,
figuratively, that is,
and in Austrian,
of course,
and said hasta la vista to Lufthansa
and servus, baby to Aerosvit.
The rest was routine.
Can you blame the kapitän
for trembling
while speaking Ukrainian?
All in all,
he flew reasonably well,
managing to stay on course.
And since I made sure
there was no room for error,
the flight to New York
was a total bore.

About the author

Alexander J. Motyl is a writer, painter, and professor. His poems have appeared at The Battered Suitcase, Counterexample Poetics, Mayday, and New York Quarterly.…

Read the full bio

Issue 19 · December 2013

Table of contents