Zeppelin III

I spin the wheel. I lean back in my puffy chair, rotating
the disk, pushing images peeking through cardboard holes.
My friend David sits on the floor with drawing paper
spread wide. His concern is acceleration, the acceleration curve:
in space you can’t just hit the gas pedal and go from zero
to nine hundred thousand without some thought of g-force.

Mr. Star Voyager would be squashed in his chair, squeezed,
flattened to less than a sheet of onion skin paper,
spaceship leaving just a mist of blood and brain matter.
It’ll take time, all that acceleration, and then, long before
you get there—to Vega or Sirius or Rigil Kent—
you’ve got to start slowing down using that same curve.

So I spin that disk. The Immigrant Song comes first: short,
extreme, insistent—and what’s more emphatic?—the wailing,
shrill voice, the merciless pounding of the drums, or
the guitar—grinding, hypnotic, intrusive and visceral.
We can’t play this vinyl when my dad is at home;
he doesn’t allow us to call it music: it defies even his insults.

He has tolerance: Moody Blues, Beatles, Three Dog Night.
You can’t hit the brakes in space. Here you are, zipping
along at the top of the curve, making good time (be there
in time for dinner…in nine years) and you want to stop.
Bam! Right through the window of your starship—
a crumpled body tumbling through space still moving

at the same meteoric velocity, your skin popping open
and your eyeballs popping out and your fluids spewing
into the cold emptiness. We come from the land of the ice
and snow where the midnight sun and the hot springs say hello
At least we think those are the lyrics. Hard to tell from
this puffy chair with my thumbs rotating that big disk.

House Rules when dad is home: no Hendrix, no Zeppelin.
I can appease him: Cat Stevens, Bread, Edison Lighthouse.
Dad’s away, Bonham’s at play, tearing up drums, pounding.
Acceleration, de-acceleration—that’s what it will be about
when we climb aboard to travel to the mall at Betelgeuse.
A disk, hinged on a copper grommet; a Roman numeral.

Hummingbirds, dragonfly wings—fluttering throes
of blues riffs: someone’s trudging to the gallows pole.
My eyes are glossy. I watch little images slide into view,
pass away: magic carpets, corncobs, antique airplanes,
zeppelins, flying saucers, balloons. The music throbs,
glossy vinyl wheeling, hurtling late afternoon time travel.