Lift Equation for Wilbur’s “Flight” Problem

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
2nd Place, Adult

Viagra won’t help.
At one hundred and forty-eight years old,
there are just some activities I used
to enjoy that I can no longer do.
My last time between a pair of wings
was over a century ago.
Safe to say my “flying” days are done.
Though when I was young
and could achieve proper lift,
I was a frequent flyer.
Starting off as a glider,
I was nothing more than a glorified kite,
one without balance or control,
which led to nosedives
due to premature navigation.
But as my flying experience
became more regular,
I was soon a motor-driven flying machine,
learned to shift my body weight for control,
to bank and roll,
account for wingspan, headwind, pressure.
With a steep angle of attack,
I would lower myself into position
through an opening in her wings,
that first Flyer, my first love,
arms wrapped lovingly around her framework
as I propelled myself forward,
and with the right amount of thrust
I would leave the ground—the upsurge
and rush of feeling lighter than air.
My first time lasted only twelve seconds.
But on that particular occasion,
at the height of my first flight
with neither drag nor drift,
I yelled, “L=KSV2CL!”
which is the equation for lift.
One look at me now, and you would hardly believe
that this old man could once get it up.
But as freaky as this sounds,
I have pictures to prove it.
Ask Orville. He was there.

about the author
T. J. McGuire lives in Dayton, Ohio, with his wife and his two daughters. His work can be found in Flights and Mock Turtle Zine.