Wednesday, March 19, 2008


So when I got back to school, I decided to enter a creative writing contest sponsored by the English Department...and I decided to use "Ascent", the poem I posted in December. However, I knew that the poem in that form did not merit any kind of award, so I enlisted some good friends who also happen to be amazingly talented English majors to help me make it better. After an afternoon of hard work, I submitted the poem. As an afterthought, I also submitted the poem to the Towerlight, the Hillsdale literary journal which is published every semester with poems and short stories written by the student body.

I got an email a week or two later saying that my poem had not won the award, but I was okay with that, as entering the contest was kind of a whim anyways. However, right before I left for spring break, I got another email from the Towerlight saying that my poem had been selected for inclusion in this semester's journal! This makes me incredibly excited, so I thought I'd repost the poem here in its edited, much-improved form. Enjoy!


Rolling down the great imposing plain of asphalt,
the airplane picks up speed, the wheels leave the ground,
I feel pressed into my seat—not crushed,
more as if my father’s firm hand holds me back.
The endless patchwork of farmland,
interrupted by a tiny outgrowth of spires—is that Detroit?
It seems so small from up here—
melds into the deep indigo of the lake.
The ascent continues—the body trembles slightly—
Below a vast wasteland of glaciers
disappears into a pale haze at the horizon—
or are those clouds? It’s hard to be sure,
up here in this endless expanse of space,
as the immutable world transforms.
The sky rises above the haze, the same azure blue
as the lake below—which way is up?
The glaciers have become a second patchwork of farmland,
this time smothered in a thick blanket of snow.
Another plane passes in the distance
leaving a bright plume of vapor behind it, like a comet—
it’s hard to believe there are people on that almost invisible speck,
on their way to some unknown destination—
maybe back to Detroit
we’re going home in opposite directions.
We’ve been swallowed by a cloudbank—the world is white
like a blizzard, except I can still see the wing.
Even now a faint hint of blue is visible
if I look close enough.
I think the plane is turning—
Blue lake below, blue sky above—or is it the other way around?
This cursed cloudbank skews the world.
Out of the cloud now, the white is at the level of my eyes,
a great plain of snow as far as the eye can see.
I could be anywhere in the world right now—
I’ve always wanted to visit Paris.
We’ve descended, sandwiched between two clouds,
with the blue peeking out from both sides—
even gravity deceives up here.
The stomach drops, rapid descent, that way must be down.
We’re still descending, but the stomach has adjusted—
funny how it does that—I can’t even tell we’re dropping anymore.
I remember something about that in physics—inertia, was it?
Changes in momentum, constant acceleration…
but I choose not to think about it. School’s out, and I’m going home,
gazing at this volatile world outside my window.