“The Lost Pilot” by James Tate (Favorite Poem Project)


My name is Jessica Cotzin. I do business development for a children’s soccer company. I also write part time for a travel reviews’ website. I am a Colombian-Jew. My mom is from Bogotá, Colombia, and my dad is Jewish-American. It’s a really interesting mix. Traveling can really teach you a lot. I’ve been exposed to so many different cultures, so many people and ways of living that I feel like it’s made me feel so much more open-minded. It’s like this quote that I like: “Begin to look at maps with a tingle of possibility.” And I love that quote so much because that’s how I am. I’ll pull out KAYAK Explore where it shows you a whole map and it shows you all the places you can go to and for how much, and it gets me so excited, like nothing else. For me, reading is a way to travel, and traveling is my passion. I love to travel, so books are like a gateway drug. Like right now I’m reading this Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, who I’m obsessed with. I’ve read all of his books. And, you know, if you love to travel, believe it or not, you like to read because it just sweeps you away in some crazy story and you just have to let yourself get sucked into it. “The Lost Pilot” by James Tate Your face did not rot /
like the others—the co-pilot, /
for example, I saw him / yesterday. His face is corn- /
mush: his wife and daughter, /
the poor ignorant people, stare / as if he will compose soon. /
But he was more wronged than Job. /
But your face did not rot / like the others—it grew dark, /
and hard like ebony; /
the features progressed in their / distinction. If I could cajole /
you to come back for an evening, /
down from your compulsive / orbiting, I would touch you, /
read your face as Dallas, /
your hoodlum gunner, now, / with the blistered eyes, reads /
his braille editions. I would /
touch your face as a disinterested / scholar touches an original page. /
However frightening, I would /
discover you, and I would not / turn you in; I would not make /
you face your wife, or Dallas, /
or the co-pilot, Jim. You / could return to your crazy /
orbiting, and I would not try /
to fully understand what / it means to you. All I know /
is this: when I see you, /
as I’ve seen you / once every year of my life, /
spin across the wilds of the sky /
like a tiny, African god, / I feel dead. I feel as if I were /
the residue of a stranger’s life, /
that I should pursue you. / My head cocked toward the sky, /
I cannot get off the ground, /
and, you, passing over again, / fast, perfect, and unwilling /
to tell me that you are doing /
well, or that it was mistake / that placed you in that world, /
and me in this; or that misfortune /
placed these worlds in us. James Tate’s “Lost Pilot” is probably one of my favorite poems for a lot of reasons, so I felt that I could relate to it. The first time I read it, I could simply relate to it, and that my father passed away six years ago, so I could connect to it in that sense. But more than that, I like it because I’ve read a lot of his other stuff. He’s very direct in the poem, it’s like a confessional. And in a way it made me feel sad because it brought back a lot of memories, but more than that, it made me appreciative that he could be so direct. And what really spoke to me from the poem was just the raw emotion from it. The anger, the sadness, the question of why things had to be that way. I was very close to my dad. I knew my dad and I wasn’t a baby when he died like in this case. For James Tate, his dad was somebody he never had a chance to know, and you really get that from reading his poem. You see his disappointment and his sadness from never having known this person. Writing for the travel reviews’ website has been an awesome opportunity for me just because it’s been so easy because I’m always traveling. I’m always on the go and discovering new, cool places in Miami, you know. I’m kind of like a go-to person for all my friends and co-workers. I love that here in Miami, you can experience this entirely different culture. It’s great to have empanadas on my lunch break or croquetas. You know, in the city you can walk down the street and it’s like an open museum. There are murals on display, you’ll see artists’ paintings, so what I’d really like for my future is just to go to new places and explore new hubs and new cities while writing about it.

2 thoughts on ““The Lost Pilot” by James Tate (Favorite Poem Project)

  1. Thanks for this. Tate matters, and I can understand why you read Murakami, too. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *