I'm trying to find a poem that I'm relatively certainly was published in The New Yorker. I think I read it around 10 years ago, but definitely a margin of error of a couple of years on either side of that. It was paired with a cartoon illustration of a man with a suitcase that I think might have been by Charles Bursotti, but the memory is pretty hazy.

It was written from the perspective of a traveler taking a plane flight, humorously equating the traveler with Odysseus as everything goes wrong for him. Either he or only his luggage is at some point diverted to O'Hare, to his great distress. The line that I remember, as best as I can replicate it, is:

O'Hare! The word was like a dagger to my heart. [...] could turn even patient men to savage beasts.

Long shot, but any chance someone can identify it or the author?

  • 1
    Welcome to Literature Stack Exchange! When did you read this poem? Do you remember anything else about that issue? See the identification-request wiki for more kinds of useful information. – bobble Apr 20 at 19:04
  • Thanks for pointing me to the wiki! I'll update the question with some more details based on the suggestions there – RSid Apr 20 at 19:06
  • Could the author possibly have been John Updike's 1993 poem? (I haven't been able to discover much about it other than its existence). – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Apr 22 at 21:38
  • I wondered that! The few lines I could see in previews didn't seem like quite the tone I remembered, but I haven't been able to find the whole thing anywhere, so it's possible – RSid May 2 at 18:22

This is A Transit Rife With Perils by Gary Krist:

O’Hare! O’Hare! The word was like a dagger to his heart,
For everyone who traveled knew that name:
A Lotus-eaters’ land, where men flew in
But ne’er came out again,
A god-forsaken place that, Circe-like,
Turned even patient men to savage beasts.

  • Amazing, thank you for finding this! It's definitely it. – RSid Jun 2 at 13:27

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