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unpublished poem, © Ross Sutherland 2015,, used by permission of the author.

Ross Sutherland in the Poetry Store

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