Four Poems from Not Quite Here: Airport Poems


Chicago O’Hare Airport

Heathrow, LAX, Dublin, and O’Hare are based on my experiences passing through the airports with these names. The funny part is that, though I love to write in airports, not one of these pieces was written in an airport. Instead, I was sitting, relatively settled (and it’s always relative with me), looking back at my experiences in these places.

I plan to write several more airport poems that seek to capture the liminality of these places and how they serve as sites of transformation and frustration, movement and stasis, all at once. Seatac will be an especial challenge to write about because I have passed through it at so many different stages of my life. To write about Newark, I will need more distance from the time I was stuck there for 24 hours. (It would have been 48 had I not stayed on hold with both Continental and United until 4 am.)

Heathrow was based on the first time I traveled through it on my way to Belfast, and LAX on the night I spent in its food court after my passport was stolen in Cambodia and I had to return to the U.S. instead of to China. Dublin was shaped by a remark my good friend Matt Hunt made to me about the airport’s cultural significance as he helped me with my luggage when I was leaving the island. If you’ve been to O’Hare, you probably recognize the light-show corridor.

Read these poems now in the current issue of Coldnoon.

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