Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Balloon (Ready for a long one?)

My longest poem was 4-5 pages long, but this comes pretty darn close. (Based on "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop)


The Balloon

I caught a tremendous balloon
and held it beside my car,
half out of the window,
the serrated ribbon
silvery serene in my hand.
It didn’t fight.
It hadn’t fought at all.
It pulled languidly,
quietly bantering with gravity,
enormous and geranium
and loud. Here and there
its crimson skin was tautened,
stretched like too little butter
over the harsh irregularities
of a loaf of brown bread.
It was old,
small scratches denoting
where it had been pummeled
by the unforgiving inequalities
of bumpy sidewalks.
In some spots it was saggy,
drooping like an unfitted
pillowcase, half-dead for want
of air. It was stained
and dirt-stippled,
the inky grime of the city
clinging tenaciously
to its scarlet sides,
deeply ingrained,
blackly infesting the knot that held
buoyancy to control.
While it was slowly being sucked
of the hydrogen that kept it afloat,
the terrible equation
of air pressure
tilting in its favor,
I thought of how it would look
defeated, a mere
deflated apple,
a cherry-toned shell,
a dried, shrunken husk,
squeezed of life:
the flame produced
by sunshine through rubber red,
quenched, the blood-stained
light bulb snuffed out.
The reflected sun
off the ruby globe
was like a glowing eye,
shifting with the wind,
uncomfortably tangent
to my gaze,
the white focus
of a flashlight
in a red mist.
I admired its florid face,
the overwhelming vermillion
blank even in its passion,
and the small rosette of the knot,
firm even in its delicate equilibrium,
and then I saw
the fingerprints, lightly pressed,
like the ghostly grey runnels
of forgotten rain on a windshield,
opaque blurs on the pure coral,
echoes of those who had longed
to hold the inflated garnet,
but felt its weightless enormity
slip from greedy fingers.
Dents in the ribbon,
like marked height,
counting age,
or notches on an Indian staff,
counting captors,
were like medals, inverted badges,
proud valleys and deep depressions
in the silver string.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the battered, green pickup,
from the pool of leaked oil,
where the thick liquid had spread
a rainbow around the rusted engine
to the rust-flowered hood,
to the dust-smattered tailgate,
to the elephantine wheels,
the door sills— until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the balloon go.

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