Looking Outside Airplane Windows

W. Todd Kaneko

I expect to see that boy
in the clouds, sad faced,
barbed wire tattoo ablaze
where no one can see it—

not a tattoo but a scar wrapped
around his belly like a belt
cinched tight to hold his body

together. Every cloud dissolves
one day, leaving so many boys
in the sky, hanging, waiting to fall
back to Earth. Girls too, hearts

where their stomachs should be,
guts twisted into brambles
now for the body’s deep sorrow
because we have so many words
for clouds: father, grandfather,

and one day, son. We spend our lives
searching for your shapes.

You already resemble those shapes
we know by heart.


From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.

Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.

W. Todd Kaneko is the author of THE DEAD WRESTLER ELEGIES (Curbside Splendor, 2014) and THIS IS HOW THE BONE SINGS (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), and co-author with Amorak Huey of POETRY: A WRITER’S GUIDE AND ANTHOLOGY (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of the literary magazine Waxwing and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches at Grand Valley State University.

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