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In the Memphis Airport
Timothy Steele


Above the concourse, from a beam,
A little warbler pours forth song.
Beneath him, hurried humans stream:
Some draw wheeled suitcases along
Or from a beeping belt or purse
Apply a cell phone to an ear;
Some pause at banks of monitors
Where times and gates for flights appear.

Although by nature flight-endowed,
He seems too gentle to reproach
These souls who soon will climb through cloud
In first class, business class, and coach.
He may feel that it’s his mistake
He’s here, but someone ought to bring
A net to catch and help him make
His own connections north to spring.

He cheeps and trills on, swift and sweet,
Though no one outside hears his strains.
There, telescopic tunnels greet
The cheeks of their arriving planes;
A ground crew welcomes and assists
Luggage that skycaps, treating bags
Like careful ornithologists,
Banded with destination tags.

From Toward the Winter Solstice (Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2006)
Used with the author’s permission.



Born in Burlington, Vermont, poet Timothy Steele is the author of five books and is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Los Angeles. Timothy lives with his wife in Los Angeles. Learn more about him at




Post New Comment:
Janet Leahy:
I love the bird in the airport metaphor carried to the last lines "skycaps like careful ornithologists banding" — great poem! Thanks, Timothy
Posted 04/15/2015 09:39 AM
Great, thoughtful rhyme but I keep wondering if someone (else) noticed him and cared enough to get that net and get him out. Points out how unobservant people are to unexpected beauty, so close, and yet, so far.
Posted 04/14/2015 11:19 AM
Lovely, understated rhyme.
Posted 04/14/2015 09:58 AM
Gilbert Allen:
Sharply observed, skillfully crafted, and deeply felt. A fine poem.
Posted 04/14/2015 09:53 AM
I love rhyming poems. This is one of the best.
Posted 04/14/2015 08:56 AM
And I love poems like this that bring a simple idea I had never thought of before. Like the poet is saying "just turn your head a little and you will see this." Yes!
Posted 04/14/2015 08:51 AM
way cool. and the rhyme is fantastically blended.
Posted 04/14/2015 08:50 AM
love the thought of the little warbler singing his heart out...
Posted 04/14/2015 07:40 AM
so wonderful!
Posted 04/14/2015 06:17 AM
What a perfect poem!!
Posted 04/14/2015 12:53 AM
Posted 04/13/2015 11:23 PM

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