4.12 / December 2009



Don’t panic.

Pilots can smell panic, and it makes them jumpy
like horses before a storm,
or the way an ape might cradle an egg.


Count the times you said you were sorry.
Subtract out the times you meant it.
Multiply by a numerical representation
of the way your favorite wine slides
down your throat,
and divide by the square root
of your father’s middle name.
This number means nothing, it’s worthless.
Throw it away.


Stop taking cryptic advice from omniscient narrators.
We don’t know shit about shit, seriously.



You are going to die.

If the sky-wolves don’t gobble you up,
the clouds will choke and smother you.
If the cabin pressure drops suddenly,
your skull will pop like a tart.
In the event of a water landing,
you will not float.
Go ahead and clutch your seat cushion
like your grandmother’s bones
if it makes you feel better:
you will not float.


For Pete’s sake,
clean up after yourself.
Do you think your mother works here?
Well, she doesn’t–
Not since they caught her
pilfering honey roasts
and fraternizing with the criminal-types
they keep locked in the necessary room.


As you lie in the wreckage,
try to take your mind off the flaking sensation behind your eyes
by working on that sudoku you packed,
or cracking the latest Zadie Smith.


It can take a long time
for the rescue crews to arrive,
and I know how tired you must be.
Just take a short nap;
I promise to wake you before the sun goes out.


Try desperately to remember what 8 is for,
because no matter how many poets and musicians
think it’s clever to make like they forgot what 8 is for
the Violent Femmes can’t help you now, bucko.
Go on: try to remember. I’ll wait.


I’m done waiting. Did you figure it out?
Good. Now you can stop panicking.


If you wake in what appears
to be a 3-star hotel in Spain,
congratulations are in order:
you made it into Heaven.


If you are in Hell,
it will still manifest to you
as a hotel in Spain,
but you will find the staff insolent,
and all the ice machines
out of order.


The only way to survive the crash
is to not board the plane,
but look around:
you’re already on it
and there is no pilot.