The Lost Pilot
By James Tate
for my father, 1922-1944
Your face did not rot
like the others--the co-pilot,
for example, I saw him
yesterday. His face is corn-
mush: his wife and daughter,
the poor ignorant people, stare
as if he will compose soon.
He was more wronged than Job.
But your face did not rot
like the others--it grew dark,
and hard like ebony;
the features progressed in their
distinction. If I could cajole
you to come back for an evening,
down from your compulsive
orbiting, I would touch you,
read your face as Dallas,
your hoodlum gunner, now,
with the blistered eyes, reads
his braille editions. I would
touch your face as a disinterested
scholar touches an original page.
However frightening, I would
discover you, and I would not
turn you in; I would not make
you face your wife, or Dallas,
or the co-pilot, Jim. You
could return to your crazy
orbiting, and I would not try
to fully understand what
it means to you. All I know
is this: when I see you,
as I have seen you at least
once every year of my life,
spin across the wilds of the sky
like a tiny, African god,
I feel dead. I feel as if I were
the residue of a stranger's life,
that I should pursue you.
My head cocked toward the sky,
I cannot get off the ground,
and, you, passing over again,
fast, perfect, and unwilling
to tell me that you are doing
well, or that it was mistake
that placed you in that world,
and me in this; or that misfortune
placed these worlds in us.
A – Amadeus - for the music alone, but also just superbly done
B – Bob Roberts - Tim Robbins skewers politics with music
C – Crimes and Misdemeanors - Woody Allen's tragicomic masterpiece
D – Dangerous Liaisons - the most stylish film ever made
E – Evita - have always loved the musical and Madonna is wonderful
F - The Fellowship of the Ring - do I really need to explain?
G – The Grifters - creepy mod-noir and Anjelica is phenomenal beyond belief
H – Hair - Let the sunshine in and stop the war
I – The Indian Runner - gripping, haunting and superbly acted
J - Joe vs. the Volcano - an underrated, hilarious, uplifting film
K – Kiss of the Spider Woman - Stunningly powerful, gutwrenching
L – The Lion In Winter - History, Hepburn, amazing dialogue and acting
M – The Maltese Falcon - everything noir is and should be
N – The Natural - because I love the dream of baseball with a passion
O – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - the script, the acting, Louise Fletcher
P – The Princess Bride - I am not left-handed!
Q – Queen Christina - My favorite Garbo
R – Rear Window - Hitchcock, Grace Kelly and humor, an irresistible combination
S – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - the best of the big-screen Treks
T – Tempest - Mazursky's film with Cassavetes, Rowlands and Sarandon, a masterpiece
U – Unforgiven – one of few Eastwood movies I really like
V – Vertigo - Hitchcock wraps obsession and pathology together
W – The Wizard of Oz - because who can forget it, ever?
X – Xanadu - because yes, I do love Olivia and ELO
Y – Young Frankenstein - Mel Brooks' masterpiece, one of the funniest movies ever
Z – Zelig - another Woody Allen masterpiece, the fiction of history
Fascinating Bill Keller op-ed piece on why Colin Powell is the wrong secretary of state for Dubya, even though Keller and I both agree that Powell is one of the few members of the Bush cabinet who actually listens to reason...
and an op-ed piece on the hypocrisy of the U.N. which I found myself unhappily agreeing with a lot of, even though my major issue -- the screaming hypocrisy toward Israel -- is never addressed.