35,000 Feet

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He climbed into the jet’s wheel well

in Havana.

In June, 1969, he was seventeen.

The Iberia Douglas DC-8 flew


to Madrid.

Why Madrid?

All the other flights

went to communist countries.


He held on by his fingertips

during take-off.

The wind blew him sideways.

He became part of the noise.

The deafening blackness.


He shivered and shook

in freezing air

at minus thirty degrees.

Deprived of oxygen

he passed out.


The pilot found him

under the plane.

Presumed dead,

covered in ice.


Armando Socarras Ramirez survived.

Like a hibernating animal

he returned to life

in the warm Spanish air.


128 wheelwell stowaways

since 1947,

all males

driven by desperation

risking everything.


animal animal photography barbaric big

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When the scalp prickles.

When the child speaks.

When the gut tightens.

Listen to the heart’s whisper.



To the hiss, the words, the warning,

Of the wrong step, person, choice.

When the lonely days make you desperate,

When you long for a caress,

When the body shouts loud,

Listen to the heart’s whisper.



It’s so easy to get caught,

Trapped by legal fishnets,

By a house, by a promise.

Listen to that whisper,

the soft, the soul,

the voice that knows.


And follow.