Answer: What Is a Balloon?

by Rich Ives —

This is the only truth there is
until you wish to believe another one,

so I stand up, and the earth recedes just enough,
the inspector general wearing a donkey-skin hat.

I make a cameo appearance in the movie,
and the character I play never even arrives.

A: An air liner
Q: What is a balloon?

Now play the infamous March of the Luminous Footsores
like a creature squeezed from moonlight.

When the word neuter barked at me, I sat up and listened.
The son of a bitch was old and hilly and gravel-eyed, but

I objected to the objectionable material, and
I discriminated against the discriminators.

Accidental clumps of horseshit convicted the gardener
of almost doing his job recently.

I paid attention to the next litter of kisses,
but many interesting obstacles can be hidden in big hair.

Don’t muddle in warm box of trollop. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.
Don’t dance unconvincingly moist. Just don’t.

And no more symphonies for wayward strumpets. None.
Oh lo so many dreams ago.

A rubbery interference of distemper, a mind like a broken canoe
at once filled with the same intrusions and departures.

We waited like nervous hummingbirds––
unsweetened thrumming just about to poke into.

There were several unconvincing yesterdays returning
in the manner of unsung lumber businesses and clever nurseries.

Don’t can’t me more, he thinks, like an unroofed box
strangle-floated and couch-gripped.

Something wonderful inhabited me. Perhaps
it could be related to what we’ve been discussing––

accrued to sundry distortions of my personage.
Deformed yes and crippled oh yes.

Little ant-thoughts swarmed lightly over sisterly delight mounds
like a rufous-sided nuthatch darting through the hose’s nosespray.

Bowl song, oatmeal song, song of eating slowly,
and spoon song singing like a gentle shovel,

digging deeper and swallowing and coming back,
a pleasure unavailable to lesser expectorants––

song of taking in everything possible to return
transformed and long for last joyful song of internal labor.

Rich Ives has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press), Sharpen (The Newer York), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking (What Books) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press).