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Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2: An Aeronaut's Birthday and a Poem

Henry Tracey Coxwell
March 2, 1819 - January 5, 1900
March 2, 2013 --  Today is the 194th anniversary of English Aeronaut Henrt Tracey Coxwell's birthday.  Fascinated by ballooning from childhood, the son of a naval officer and a dentist by profession, Coxwell made his first ascent in 1844 at the age of  25.  He became a profession aeronaut 4 years later, by 1861 made over 600 ascents,  and eventually established his own balloon factory.   In 1862 with Dr. James Glaisher, he attained the record height of about 39,000 ft.  His partner, Glaisher, lost consciousness during the ascent, and Coxwell, unable to use frostbitten hands, opened the gas valve with his teeth, to allow their rapid but safe descent. [Source: Wikipedia]


Balloons and Mountains
by Erik La Prade

 
Mother, the view from your hospital
Window is dangerous high and steep
With no visible places to grab:
Neither to ascend nor descend.
Your fingers and toes are red-blue
Like the final stages of frostbite that
Climbers on Mt. Everest suffer from.

With the invention of the hot air balloon,
It became possible to ascend to great heights,
Rapidly, without physical exertion.

You have chemicals and machines to help
You survive under your white sheet tent:
Seven bags, suspended by wire rods,
Continuously emptying their contents
Into your body.

The meteorologists Coxwell and Glaisher
Ascended 29,000 feet in a balloon to
Obtain samples of the air for analysis.
Both were overcome. Coxwell, after
Temporarily losing the use of his limbs,
Was able to use his teeth to pull the cord
That released some hydrogen from the balloon
And brought them down safely.

The nurse checks your numbers
As the air is pumped into your lungs at
An even rate. She tells me these
Are the best blood gas results, so far.


This poetry selection is from La Prade's Movie Logic (Poets Wear Prada, 2013).


HOT OFF THE PRESS
MOVIE LOGIC:Poems
by Erik La Prade
ISBN 978-0615761237
Soft Cover, Perfect Bound 36pp.
$12.00
Release Date: February 2013

"cinematic verse celebration of urbanity and human tenderness ... life freeze-framed into mise-en-scènes of hilarity and heartbreak"
-- ALAN KAUFMAN, author of Drunken Angel


Buy at Amazon.com: http://amzn.com/0615761232

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