Winter 2013 - THE POTOMAC

Red Eye Blues

   Joey Nicoletti

Airport Security. Gloved hands slide
toward my groin. I step aside
at a thick-necked officer’s command.

My Converse kicks call out my name
in red suede concern.
I do what I can to comply,

but I make no apologies
for my olive-skin;
my peasant hands, gnarled and callused,

like those of my grandparents and uncles
when they raised the GW, the Whitestone,
the Verrazano, and the Triborough:

the bridges of their hopes, dreams,
loves and other assorted disasters.
The officer continues:

he pats my legs again,
glaring the denim off of my jeans;
the numbers off of my football jersey.

A grope here, a shove there,
a monotone sentence of thanks
for my cooperation.

And as I bite my tongue,
I spot a nub on his right hand,
where his index finger should be.

Maybe the officer’s disposition is a matter
of being proactive;
of pushing away the pain

of what’s been lost.
Perhaps his sadness takes cover
in gloves of pale-blue regulations

as a way of protecting himself
from the windblown grains
of memory’s dunes;

a way of keeping safe
from the friendly fire of everyday life;
of moving on

from the thick skin of combat
forged halfway around the world.
So I nod, grab my carry-on,

then step into my kicks,
and I feel a quiet pouring like cream
into a cup of coffee

behind the Starbuck’s counter
up ahead of me, like the day itself,
freshly poured.

I look out a window:
tall, distant trees sway.

A plane waits on the runway.
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