Chuck Tripi has lived a life of poetry and study since a medical catastrophe suddenly ended his flying career in 1998. After his poem "Crack-Up" was published in HFR's 47th issue, he struck up a correspondence with Managing Editor Beth Staples. His epistolary perspective on writing and the writing life has been so valuable to Beth, she wanted to share some of his notes here. He writes from Sussex County. See all of Chuck's letters here.
The 727 was nimble although it could be tricky flying it for the first thousand hours or so. But once its quirks were learned it was the most dynamic and responsive airplane I ever flew, especially when the October wind, in the clarity and gusts of autumn—on the Expressway to thirty-one, say, or the River to thirteen at La Guardia.
Going up the Hudson River on an especially turbulent day, with a brand-new copilot flying the leg and getting a little bit behind the airplane, I had to take it for a few moments to let him regroup.
He was surprised and pleased when I gave it back to him, but it was his own limits he had bumped-up against, not mine. Everybody has to be new. We passed Manhattan’s caverns measureless to man in pretty good shape; he turned and crossed the stacks at seven hundred feet and greased it on without the need for further talk from me.
We hear, in our critique groups and open mics, poems that bump the limits of our own imaginations, poems more excellent than we might perceive, and poems scratched and scribbled while another poet is reading.
Not everyone can fly an airplane or write a poem, but everyone can want, and everyone can work within the realm of coming true, and everyone, when they cannot praise, can seek to encourage.