This balloon,
this red balloon
filled at the customer service
desk, tied to our shopping
cart (unlike my brother’s,
the string of which is wrapped
around his wrist by
an immature bow)—

I love this red balloon,
like my mother (secretly!) loves cigarettes, like
my father loves Maker’s Mark, like
my brother hates the broiled chicken
that our mother will cook before leaving us:
for a dinner shift at the restaurant;
alone with the babysitter’s TV Guide;
while dad plays guitar and solders mixing board wire—
a smell I will finally recognize in high school
among the seniors before soccer practice when
I nervously say no, thanks.

My red balloon
will be a Cerberus
for thirty-five minutes
until we reach the parking lot,
and I cannot bear to bring it home
to watch it press from the ceiling, and
crawl to the coffee table to die alone,
where its skin wrinkles and hisses
where is my boy?

I untie the knot at the
same time my brother’s
has freed itself, and stare as
my red balloon
crashes into my brother’s blue,
loops around a light pole once
and wins the race to God.

In the cart, my brother cries for his lost toy.


Date created 01 Oct 2007
Date modified 01 Oct 2007
Journal Phoenix Literary Arts Magazine (Dec 2007)