Imagination of the Deflated Balloon

by Henry Shifrin
Wild Poetry Forum
Honorable Mention, October 2008
Judged by Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald


The balloon lies marooned beside a stain
of a foot on an empty section of rug.

Smells of burned rubber where its tip
kissed a match. It had been so lonely
and the breeze, so gentle. The wind’s

hand lifted gracefully toward the flame,
warm but too warm. The balloon leaves
the moment to dream: it fills with air,

rises into the clouds. Grounded fog
depresses all it covers, but moving
through clouds has a holy chill.

The balloon populates the sky
with round bodies, remembers
the static lightning two bodies

can rub into being — the shock
that erases the space between them.
Realizes movement isn’t as necessary

as thought, and so it inflates a friend
it knew when they clung to the same

lamp post, over the happy-birthday
sign and compared the size
of their shadows.

This balloon always darkened
the ground more than others.

At least it dreamed it that way.



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