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Friday, January 05, 2007


by Jacqueline Kudler

They looked like us, but more so --
creases in the pin stripe suits keener,
knots in the power ties tighter, more focused,
and if you looked past the patina of the woman’s
smile, you saw something silent there, something
watchful -- the serious child at the party.

The one they called the leader seemed unlikely,
a good old Texas fellow, the kind of larky
character who flips out trick cigars on Rotary nights.
When he addressed us from the front of the cabin,
he looked to the others as if to ask, Am I right, guys?
Am I coming across? Still, when he got to the part
about Evil out there in the world and how he would
protect us his words became less hesitant,his eyes
incandescent --the way the filaments in a long
dormant lamp light up if you touch it right.

It’s been so long since they first seized control
in the air space over Florida, it’s hard to remember
when things were otherwise. Most folk seem happy
here -- we know from nightly polling after the prime
rib dinners, after the speeches. It’s true some talky
ones among us have disappeared. At morning
roll call sometimes we notice the spaces -- send up
silent prayers for them at 10 AM Devotions.

And then -- the bombs. The plane barely wobbles
with each drop but we can see the cities, you see,
and wonder about the poor souls below in all that
smoke. The leader assures us he must do it
to protect our freedoms. Our freedoms.

But mostly we don’t linger on these things.
Between prayer meetings and Stallone movies,
there’s little time to think, much less remember
where we thought we were headed before they
first stole aboard or who or what we were
or once had been.

Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. She serves as an advisory director on the board of Marin Poetry Center. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005 for “an exceptional body of work over a period of time,” and her “outstanding commitment to the literary arts.”