LAX creates somniacs or worse.
Promised wifi is a lie. We lay
to wait connection, a continuation home.
We broke for holiday, a ritual for the blessed,
who have few prayers rather fistfuls of money.

Each mouth is chewing masticating more slovenly
than black angus on the green slopes
of Waimia, chewing masticating or just stopped
for the briefest moment, then back to the troughs,
filling not its need, but an insatiable boredom.

Recruit exempted — sober, full of grace,
shakes rationed vitamins in a water bottle.
He has nothing to live or die for on balance,
but to die fuels him; heroism
separates him, just look at him — fit.

He too chews, but he is hungry.
An old soldier walks his jealous cane
close to the recruit to examine all he lost.
The recruit rises above all of us,
ready to be stationed for duty in some gray
anonymous airplane to some nameless base.

The old soldier returns to his three-hour seat.
His wife shouts, “want a Bloody Mary?”
He remembers all those years ago — they say
this is no life — drinking at noon.

Across from me a Japanese guy pulls
tiny wool balls off his sweater
flicks them to the floor for the vacuum
pushed by a Mexican who never looks up.

A young woman walks a chihuahua/papillon
puppy on a long leash between the rows.

A pink girl — purse, face, dress,
stockings, cell speaks only to her mother
who has colored her. Back from a walk I turn
to see a life-sized doll, plastic, who moves.

I can’t sleep when the world revolves this way,
invisible for the next five hours at 35,000 ft.
We board earlier than announced, but late,
waiting in garish California light
for snow to stop falling on the Boston tarmac.

— Fan Ogilvie