How to Dismantle an Airplane

“When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this’?”
Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim, Christopher Martinez

Step 1: Exhume the Engine

It’s easier than it looks. Break down the metal shell and see a halfway heart of pistons, its shaking air-cooled ending like the sun before detonation. This riddled engine will become scrap or the most important sign of us, salvaged bullet-hole constellations that vanished too fast in summer. We search for reasons behind the trigger, but do they even matter? The heart still shivered downward as the airplane failed to function.


Step 2: Collect Reusable Pieces

The reason might not matter, but there’s history in the fragments. Collect flight deck instruments, windows and bolts accounted — and why can’t we recall each face that crossed the television? No one can, no one is forever like the sun, the madness. Orlando to Isla Vista, and a hometown’s shooting goes unimagined, until another takes an airplane back to the beginning: smell of burning rubber, blood across school windows. Fuel caps, flaps, black box recorder; there is no point in holding on if we do not remember.


Step 3: Address the Black Box

Recorder, take us back to the beginning, when a young sun lived above the Pacific and a small town knew no madness. We cooled our faces in summer air and swept out fires to the ocean. It was good still, and our failures pushed us forward. Now, thirty-nine towns witnessed, yet we say we can’t remember. Soon you too will be dismantled and melted into bullets, and nothing left but bolts and blood will hint at your existence. Recorder, there’s nothing easier than the cycle of indifference, but don’t die with that detonation, patterns of our history; help us face our halfway hearts before we concede another ending.

Alyssa Ogi writes and teaches in Portland, OR. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon, and her recent poetry can be found in Best New Poets 2017, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals.