Substitute Pilot – Notes

Background Notes for Substitute Pilot

A close friend I once had – Nancy (memorial blog where I’ve posted some of her poems) – used to work with a sonnet form based on two 5-line stanzas separated by a 4-line stanza with the sonnet’s volta folding over midway through the poem. Among the numerous variations with which she played, she would add a 15th line, giving herself three 5-line stanzas, while still thinking of her poem as the 14 lines making up her original sonnet, that 15th line sometimes even rendered invisible via HTML coding she had a companion do for her.

I recall those experiments of hers whenever I write the terza rima with which I feel most comfortable: 4 stanzas plus one final line swinging back — reminiscent to me of Nancy’s experimentations because I frequently start with a terza rima sonnet, then chop my poem down to the 13 lines I decide to keep. This poem is one of those: I originally drafted it with an additional line.

For those readers who feel they need to know what a poem “means” before they decide whether or not it works for them, think of the airplane in this poem as being our Heptahedron. Then think of Sara as our pilot and Cynthia as our co-pilot. We’ve got David, Dean and Denise along as our first class passengers; then they let me come along on a budget discount ticket. Our seventh one on board acts as our flight attendant. Take it from there — that’s not actually what this one’s meant to say, but you won’t wind up too far from where we all land if you read it as though it were.

— Maggie



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