This is a dream I had each night in Korea,
where I was very busy killing in a plane:
I boarded an ocean liner as my destiny
ordered, and sailed away. The sun came up
over the scented tropics, day after day.
Then the underbelly of Europe appeared:
its black ice, its suffocating manners.
And then I was nodding off in the bar
downstairs in the Stratocruiser —
endless thunder over the Sea of Japan,
droning home through a mile-high wall of rain —
you wake up just as you think ‘touchdown’,
and the fat tyres kiss the wet tarmac, bump,
shriek, and touch again.
The flak jacket
waiting to be invented, your shabby suit
hanging at the cleaners with another name
carefully printed on the tag — your roles
were there all along, shifting slightly
in the shadows of a doorway somewhere in
South-east Asia, but still yours, and you
slip back into the last half of the century,
unannounced, unmarked, without a second look.