Stephen King just told the New York Times on their Sunday Book Review what his favorite poem is.
My favorite poem is “Falling,” by James Dickey. Published in 1967, its delirious language, coupled with a clear narrative, make it a precursor to Dickey’s novel “Deliverance,” published three years later. The poem is audacious, sensuous and completely beautiful. It’s also as neat a parable of the human condition as has ever been written.
A 29-year-old stewardess fell … to her
death tonight when she was swept
through an emergency door that sud-
denly sprang open … The body …
was found … three hours after the
—New York TimesThe states when they black out and lie there rolling when they turnTo something transcontinental move by drawing moonlight out of the greatOne-sided stone hung off the starboard wingtip some sleeper next toAn engine is groaning for coffee and there is faintly coming inSomewhere the vast beast-whistle of space. In the galley with its racksOf trays she rummages for a blanket and moves in her slim tailoredUniform to pin it over the cry at the top of the door. As though she blewThe door down with a silent blast from her lungs frozen she is blackOut finding herself with the plane nowhere and her body taken by the throatThe undying cry of the void falling living beginning to be somethingThat no one has ever been and lived through screaming without enough airStill neat lipsticked stockinged girdled by regulation her hatStill on her arms and legs in no world and yet spaced also strangelyWith utter placid rightness on thin air taking her time she holds itIn many places and now, still thousands of feet from her death she seemsTo slow she develops interest she turns in her maneuverable body