Sidi J. Mahtrow

Handicap Principle

You're flying the 140,
Pull the nose up, up, up
The skin crackles and pops
Higher you raise the nose.

The frame shudders
How much more can you
Stand the plane on its tail
Until the stall?

Moments are like hours
Your hands sweat
Tense, you hold your breath,
Why are you doing this?

A final breath
Hard forward you push the stick
Right rudder, the plane spins
Down you come.

A perfect recovery.

You're solo-sailing the O'Day,
Wind's picked up to 30 knots off port,
Strong gust,
Flying the 150 genoa, main fully out.

Hat blew off long ago,
Salt spray stings your eyes,
Wedged against the bench at 45 degrees,
Arm aches, tiller dancing in your hand.

If you come about,
You'll demast and sink.
You dropp the genoa.
Maybe reef the main later.

Sail on!


You're a moth circling the flame
Close, yet closer
The heat draws you near
Can you recover?

One more time around.


The Wasabi inflames
The sharp bite, is it pain?
Your nose is in flame, Eyes tear,
Top of your head's blown clear off.

You ask for more.


Wearing red shoes with four inch heels
Toes crammed into the pointy end,
Arch support, never,
Heels a flopping.

She dances.


The 'bull' spins, bucks and spins again,
A puppet with head and arm cracking,
Legs splayed wide, holding on for life,
Just a few more seconds.

Ride On!


It's called the 'Handicap Principle'
You do it to prove
You are strong
In the face of adversity.

It's evolutionary.


Submitted: Sunday, April 29, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Evolutionary biologist call it the 'Handicap Principle'. Those who exercise this 'principle' and don't survive dropp from the gene pool. Survivors mate and reproduce, the rewards for proving they are strong in the face of adversity. It's controversial.

On, lovers often are looking for 'chemistry'. Is this the chemistry they seek? The rush of adrenaline, the surge of testosterone occurs in both sexes.

Dario Maestripieri discusses it in his book, Games Primates Play. Basic Books, New York,2012.

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