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everyone is beautiful

in the morning

in the airport

impressively dressed in

pressed pants and pleated dresses

flowered scents and incense

freshly showered skin shines flat and dry in the morning sun

I catch the sun in the corner of my squinted eyelashes

and circular rainbows form in my periphery

an unexpected accent leaps from the mouth of a man I thought was native

but everyone in the airport looks like a friend to me

who knows where anyone came from?


but everyone is going somewhere

and everyone has a bag

ladies with purses, pushing carts

a group of middle school boys with back packs

hands in their back pockets

busy business men minding their business

holding briefcases containing briefs about cases

and their cotton briefs and glasses cases


everyone is walking quickly

checking departure times

on the screens briefly

in case they missed their flights

and the news is on the television screens

and someone else is dead

and there's war

and we are at war

with terror…


but no planes have crashed today

no planes have crashed yet today

will mine be the first?

who looks like a terrorist?

how do you profile hate?

who's got shifty eyes?

anyone could be holding the exploding bag

and you can't look in everyone's shoes

they could work there,

in security



everyone is suspicious,

eyeing me nervously

eyes darting side to side

person to person

flying is safer than driving


the most common cause of death for people my age is drunk driving,

for older folks its cancer and heart disease,

terrorism doesn't even make the charts,


but in practice,

everyone is a suspect,

I am a suspect,

I am on camera,


we are all on camera,

there are men and women in dark rooms

in dark suits and sunglasses

watching us on screens

they are the Men In Black

sent by the government

to protect us from the illegal aliens invading our country

Agents J and K vs. Osama Bin Ladin

can Tommy Lee Jones hunt down this fugitive?

can Will Smith upload a virus into the Al-Qaeda terrorist network?

Jeff Goldblum and Al Gore are back there too…

scanning the screens

monitoring the monitors

watching for terrorists

watching me

everyone is watching me

get on the plane


and on the plane

everyone is nervously

biting fingernails

tapping on laptops

listening to headphones

chewing on the ends of pens and pencils

drinking coffee or soup from thick mugs

moving hands


cracking knuckles

eyes darting

side to side

person to person


the plane is moving

we're all going somewhere

and we're goin' there together

we'll either reach our destination

or we'll go down in flames

and everyone on the plane is nervously imagining their death

I can see it in their faces


and it's been more than three years

but we're still so scared


we're at war with terror

fighting fear itself

doing battle with a concept

and you can't defeat a concept


the only way to defeat terror

is to stop being afraid



  (c) Copyright 2004, Daniel Strack

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