Accidents Are Always Waiting to Happen

I wrote this poem with a lot on my mind this week. Please feel free to let me know what you think of it.


Accidents Are Always Waiting to Happen

We watch our watches to avoid staring
at the security guard flipping through an Arabic textbook

as two Saudi students hesitantly ask
for their confiscated luggage.
Both are in shorts, flip-flops, carrying black backpacks,
one in an ASU T-shirt. We watch the ticking
with motorized anxiety

as we try to balance throwing stones against jugs of honey.

Though the students are speaking in English
a TSA worker asks if they want a translator.
I only know enough Arabic to get me in trouble.

The broken fireworks of impatience
prompt the inspection of a nonexistent fuse,
I want to leave this furnace of an airport
and sneak past the Saudis and their friends
the TSA. Asalamu-alaykum
I could say to the security officer,

will the line be moving any time soon?
It won’t take long now, insha’allah.
That might get me out of line
quicker than I want. Tick tick tick.

People chatter like wind and lean against columns
until they become columns itching to crumble into dust.

Why are we still here? a boy asks
his mother. Sweat builds ferociously
in the combustible mechanism of time.

Maybe the Saudis are used to this.
A child says she will explode
if she does not get to a restroom soon.
I look at my shoes and think,
with the right effort,

I could conceal a plastic knife just beneath the sole
and use it to cut through the tough meat
served on the airplane for dinner,
if I ever make it on the plane. Would anybody notice?
Would anybody care? Tick tick tick.
Nothing found, but the inspection continues.


This poem is copyrighted work of Keene Short, 2015.

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