Today's Inspiration & Writing Prompt


Philip Levine

Strapped to my seat, I turn

to the thin Air Force major

and ask how far to L.A.

He lifts his sunglasses, stares

down at the ocean slipping

beneath, and says, "50 minutes."

We've left the land behind us,

the stump-pocked crests, the creased hills

of Vandenberg Missile Base

where nothing moved, nothing breathed

except one lone steam engine

pulling nothing, and the waves

which came at the shore as though

they mattered, row after row.

The major reads; his lips move

soundlessly, wordlessly

like a lunatic's in love,

he reads that they're making us

get out of our cars to be

counted, they're getting tough

and we're getting tougher back,

he passes over the small

blurred photo of Jean Cocteau,

the names of the champions

Cerdan, Lamotta, Piaf,

for whom there are no poems.

If I shut my eyes I know

I'll be in a private home

for the blind where things are worse.

My good neighbor, the major,

looks at me. His eyes are young,

placid, and light blue as though

unused, and he offers me

half his newspaper, offers

his window seat--for he's seen

it all--offers a comment

on the weather but not on

the night which seems to be

gathering at the margins

of sight or the bottom

of the ocean or in

the twin periods marking

the dead centers of our eyes.

WRITING PROMPT: Think about a memorable experience you had on a plane: an unusual view out of the window, another passenger, your feelings while talking with your seat mate. Close your eyes and imagine yourself back in that moment - What thoughts are running through your head? How do you feel?

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