The Balloon Ride

The Big Red Balloon – A Poem

When the big red balloon is filled with hot air
It rises.
To be nudged by an evening breeze
First left, then right
Or carried downwind like an inflated sail
Blooming in the clear morning.

In the beginning there are
yards and yards of billowing cloth
Inflated by an electric fan.
Then the propane flame heats
the air in that red cave.

Spew heat.
Wait. Spew heat.
Spew. Keep it hot. Keep it hot.

The warm air takes the shape of a
balloon clutching a tiny basket
with its wire claws.
We rise.

The horizon expands.
The countryside spreads below.
The basket becomes a floating room In the evening sky.

Keep it hot. Keep it hot. Spew.
The burners stop all comment.
The heat beats down on one’s head.
The world unfolds on an idle breeze. So.

Then there’s a sinking.
Gradually noticeable.
Then hard not to notice.
Still spewing, but lower.
Much lower.
Now hesitant. Suspended for a moment.
Then down again with knees bent.

Bouncing the way a ping pong ball clicks across the table.
We come to rest.
The red balloon preens before an admiring crowd.
A beacon to the neighborhood.
Perched upon the earth…almost floating.
Nailed to the earth by willing helpers.
Now pulling the thermal plug.
Hot air mingles with the cold.

The red balloon shivers.
Collapsing its heat into the night.
Spread shriveled on the ground
its claws are loosened from the prisoner basket.

Condensed into a canvas sack
The splendor awaits
The propane torch.