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First Class

by Lionel E. Deimel






747 airliner


First class flight to Melbourne, Aus.,

Something to get used to—

Learn to like the caviar,

The lobster, and the goose, too.


There is no Qantas stewardess;

Attendants all are men.

They speak in accents credible,

Though at times beyond my ken.


They add an air of gravity

And obsequi´ousness,

And make it clear that more is more,

And more is never less.


I've been served dinner, breakfast, too,

And ate at least two meals before.

Is this one day, or maybe two?

Five meals a day, or four?


My seat, not like my Lazy Boy,

Adjusts with motors quiet.

It lets me rest in calm repose

And contemplate my ruined diet.


I can walk about the cabin;

There’s no need to bend or duck.

There’s more than ample elbow room

And aisles wide as a truck.


The passengers who’re near to me

Do not seem rich or fat,

They are not wearing fancy clothes,

No Dior dress, and no cravat.


They look, however, comfortable

In this, the pamp’ring place,

And seem, moreover, quite content

To be the favored race.


I guess there’re blokes in tourist,

But they’re nowhere to be seen.

Do they get chocolates, choice of wines,

Headphones, and private TV screen?


Alas, my lot—the normal one—

Is a narrow seat in steerage.

I'll not fly first class again,

Barring elevation to the peerage.



In the spring of 1998, I flew to Australia for a family vacation. I joined my wife, who was consulting down under, and my son, who was attending school there. I was traveling on frequent-flyer miles, and, as luck would have it, only first class tickets were available. The first-class cabin was in the quite spacious nose of a 747. The service was attentive in the extreme. I did learn that Qantas has female flight attendants, by the way, though the flight attendants who influenced this poem were all male. This poem has a lot of technical defects, but it was composed in the moment to amuse my traveling companions, and I decided not to “fix” it. (Written April 1998.)

— LED, 10/5/2005

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