CANTO 10 --

Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, 
as two Pan Am pilots exchange a stare, 
the Diamond T gains altitude, 
its wheels and engine turning slowly. 
Iím breathing deep in filmy silence, 
the octopus comfortable beside me. 

Turtle on the hood blinks and turns its head 
as the blue ocean drops away. 
Now wreathed in banks of cumulus, 
under this slow and steady breathing, 
the Diamond T begins to shimmer. 
Already into the ionosphere I see 
the whole sky turning from blue 
to astronautsí purple-black. 
We soar and lift ever higher. 
I sense the thrum of alpha-wave propulsion 
and see the magnetosphere! 
a great bowl of vibrating light! 

that bulges toward the sun, 
shimmering and buffeting 
in the turbulent solar winds 
sheathing earthís entire magnetic field 
and streaming far out on the nightsideó 
the dark sideóall alive with auroral storms 
spiralling in at the poles! 
The whole wide sky is aflame with charged 
protons and electrons blown off the sun and 
curving in hazes of purples and reds.

Drive straight on into the sun! into white-hot helium void,
Scramble the eggs of my paltry mindís eyes 
with the incineration of the kingdoms of distinctions.
Release us! Gate! Gate! Open the sun-hinged gate! 
Turtle turns and speaks:

All right, Iím breaking 
a silence of thirty million years! 
Enough of these fantastic conceits. 
Youíre sold out to sensation, 
financed by and mortgaged to riders and attachments. 
You need a Virgil to your wannabe Danté, dude! 
Letís go sliding down the dayside stream as it spirals in 
to fluoresce in arcs and rays and curling ionic waves 
that entertain research rockets
and falsify early-warning radar. 
Iím taking you right through the pole to the earthís core 
and then some for a few object-lessons. 

No way to think about this rebukeónow weíre 
curving down toward the north poleís auroral oval.
The hood and the headlights 
are glowing incandescent.
Turtleís eyes are bright white points! 
The filmy veil 
we trail is a shining rippling rainbow.

Copyright 2000, R. Virgil Ellis. 

R. Virgil (Ron) Ellis lives near Cambridge, Wisconsin. He has most recently placed poems with WordWrights, New Works Review, new digressions, Recursive Angel, 2River View, The Wolf Head Quarterly, The Lucid Stone, and Mississippi Review Web. His site is, and he can be contacted at Canto 10 is part of The Tenting Cantos.