The poem begins: I loved a man in Liverpool
but he is gone now, and now I am here.
And this ‘here’ is understood as the man-sized space
occupied by the poet at the time of the poem,
not the ‘here’ experienced when I read the words
some fifty years later on a flight to Copenhagen.
The poet is not ‘here’, cramped into standard
a screaming newborn in the seat one-over.
This Easyjet Airbus inspired no laments
from an ageing poet to his dead gay lover,
even if he observed a likeness to his friend
in the emergency landing procedure cartoon.
“…but he is gone now, and now I am here…
watching an Eddie Murphy film in the sky…”
Funny how a word like ‘here’ persists,
making poems seem closer than they actually are.
Think of all the places these lines have been read:
a classroom, a prison, a toilet, a park,
all of them equal distance from the dead.
Even in a cylinder, high above Denmark,
en route to a festival to watch Patti Smith,
(who is a bit like a dead gay lover of my own)
Kalundborg beneath me, glittering with sadness,
a map of another man’s pain.
I can feel the cabin pressure dropping. Thank God
I can never come back here again.
unpublished poem, © Ross Sutherland 2015,, used by permission of the author.