Vol de nuit

To the Memory of AF447
Lost on the night of June 1st, 2009

Breathing, I, breathing,

Face-down, plummeting

Spread-eagle, plunging

Light-years, near-dead, hearing.


Are you there?

Who spoke, who asks?  I lie, I lie.

With Samuel I reply, not I Lord, no, not I.

Here am I not, speak not,


Hear I cannot, screen, no, nor headphone.

Silent diving, clutch but fall

With shiner’s grace

Through endless urwald.


Tell me nothing! screech I.

Message never given

Cockpit cranium riven

Visitation. Eli shall die. And why?


Begone, by god! Tell him yourself!

No prophet I, no seer

No airy pulpiteer

No soapbox fox.


Art in heaven not here, no, neither,

Forgive us and here it comes now

Unbidden, no nightmare,

Flightwing cross my path.


Thunder rolls, divinity enters

Every vein, each orifice

Ravishing me, raping me midriff down

Unfastening my flesh and vanishing.


Clouds split, spit crystal ice

Deliver me, dear Christ, from freezing turbine

Bleating to no listener, listening to no poor bleeder.

Deliver them from my pillow!


Pater noster words flow

But no, no go

He rides on into me

Mastering, unmanning me.


Limbs stir but move not.

Dread too deep, stress

Darkness in and out

Of blinding un-sleep.


Beads tell, see them!

Prayer beads belted tight

In whispering fingers

Qui es in coelis…


Sanctificetur… but no response

And terror tremens

I am here with Eli

Never to return.


Stomach lurches, hurled hard down

One hundred foot

Then up, too steep, storm-tossed

His autopilot gone and pilot lost.


He hears me not.

Nose to gale, he stalls but knows it not

His basic training failed

He falls but fears me not.


In cubicle his captain sleeps.

Why wake him?  Yet I try.

Forget me not! He gets me not.

His man too proud to ask.


Only begotten…and the Creed

Gushes from lips long dry

Resurrection of the body

Theirs and mine.


Nuns strapped

In corseted screams;

She calms she psalms

She names the storm.


Thumbs tweet networkless

Screens dead, phones dumb.

Clouds break and close.

He knows. He knows.


If he is there, he knows

Where they are bound.

Fiat hodie voluntas tuas

His will.  Not mine.


But I am there.

In-flight, in flight.

With child beside me

And behind.


Their mother holds

Through thunder.

Passing weather.

Seated we sit


By hundreds down the aisle.

Adveniat regnum tuum

Thy kingdom, no, no coming

Deliver us, oh, just deliver.


They know. This wrong.

This turn, this time,

The time to learn,

If only.


Wake him, make him

Hear! What else

Is he there for?

Drop the nose!


Testing faith

And training his novitiates

The captain sleeps



Not on his watch,

His Nelly. She too sleeps

Perhaps she dreams. He hears

Her not.


Wake up, I scream.

My captain and my Lord

Wake now. Wake me!

I cannot. Nor can he.


His pilot firm holds course

Severed from navigator logarithms,

Panic buttons, warning howls

Flashing dials and false alarms.


Man and matrix mashed, unmastered

Heavenly host disguises god absconded

Live on air from microphone.

‘A little turbulence,’ she murmurs.


Intercession void

Saints dead as asteroid

Hurtling past. No word

Spoken nor heard.


Strapped safe, fastened to you

Lord, jackets zipped.

Vertiginous trust, we dive.

A scream then hush.


‘Your shout’ she whispers

And he wakes, to seraphs

Riven with doubt,

Despair. Too late.


One glance.

His work is razed.

His instruments null

Their foresight wiped. Confounded.


Nous sommes morts

He knows it,

Seizing control

From disbelievers.


What controls?

Who rides this night?

Who steers this plane, who owns

This flight?


Pen that designed it,

Hands that stitched it,

Hangar that stored it

Captain that ditched it?


Or Lucifer that lit

And saw it, sees it

Now and seizes, hapless

Night lights flashing past


To break his fall. Thus vacuum-packed

I tumble, in-stressed pressure

Leaking like his wounds

Before the spear.


My fault, the grievous fault

Of my commission and omission

For I sleep it, wake it.

And each night


With Samuel I stutter:

Eli, you are lost. The lord is not,

Nor with you, nor shall not nothing utter.

Make your peace. For I cannot.


Nor should I know.

Nor have the right to show.

Nor have I pipes and taps to glow

With gas-fired coals of divination.


Voice came none to me

That night, to wake me.

Only the dead,

Their words recovered


Pouring from dusky portal

Where with Orpheus I enter at my peril,

Screen-gaze trespass, knowing is without return

And transcript is transgression.


Cerberus, it bites, it claws, it sticks.

Once read, twice damned.

With Lucifer I fall with them. Eternally.

Mind blazing into fiery extinction.


© Gareth Jones 2018


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