[ToC]

 

THE OREGON AIR

Peter Twal

I've got six bullets left, and I will shoot
every God damn bison on this plane. The pilot

says, Pine Hair Boy died of dysentery but I’m like, never
rest. Next to me, Sweater Guy faints. The air

smells like nineteenth century decay and wool
because we are all dying

slow, all mold on the underside of our
wagons. I see people, from my window, wrenching

away with bleeding fingers, trying to rip off the wings                    
so they can tie them to the side of their seatwagons.

Everyone's like, whatever gets us there
in less than three pieces. And then they all

faint. I'm thinking, how do I get out
but never rest. One hand itches the stubble

under my chin, the other grips the safety card shank
I sharpened last night. The pilot says, Tumbleweed

Woman fainted. He says, do you want to rest but
I just spit imaginary tobacco into

my plastic Scotch cup. I'm thinking, I might
murder. I might do whatever it takes

to get us there Erin, if you eat rabbit,
I can murder that, too in less than three pieces.

They say they have
all the peanuts and soft drinks

you could want. The sky floats
cloudless around my head but then the pilot says,

Drinkbelt Lady fainted. The pilot says, everyone
has dysentery now. The pilot says, the pilot

fainted but me, tonight and every
night, I'm keeping watch. I'm keeping an eye

out for the French couple
of thieves who strike after the fires

suffocate themselves, the ones who take
everything without a face and for dead.

 


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It all started when season four of Community stopped being funny. I have always been enamored by that show, the way it weaves together such incredible narrative bricolages and how the character of Abed is able to exist both inside and outside of the show’s narrative bounds by interpreting and navigating his life through film, television, and other forms of pop culture. Adding to that love my own fascination with shifting identities and landscapes, (mis)communication, and about a million other movies/TV shows/ video games, I began writing Airplane Mode, the collection of poems that "The Oregon Air" belongs to, hoping to emulate Community’s bricolage effect.

In this piece, I tried to pack the world of The Oregon Trail into the liminal non-space of a plane’s economy class. Remember that computer game? The one where you shot everything you could, only bought bullets, and became desensitized to the horrors of dysentery, death, and crossing rivers in things not meant for river crossing? Of course, you do.