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Tuesday, February 07, 2023


by William Aarnes

                after Ingar Christensen 

blown-up balloons exist 

and celebrations exists 

with their popping party balloons, 

adults as caught up 

in the popping 

as their kids 


and helium-filled balloons exist 

and the joyful, worried disappointment 

of their so quickly drifting away 

from outstretched hands 

to land somewhere they shouldn’t 

after they burst 


and hot-air balloons exist, 

colorful hot-air balloons 

for the risky thrill  

of being above it all, 

of looking down at the countryside, 

the treetops, the houses, the cars, 

the people puny as can be, 

hot-air balloon rides exist 

for that glorious, if fleeting feeling  

that everything’s yours 

as far as the eye can see 


weather balloons exist, 

meteorologists all around the world 

working together, 

twice a day releasing balloons,  

balloons that rise twenty miles high 

before they burst, their radiosondes  

parachuting back to earth  

with all their measurements 

of how cold and windy it is 

up above 


and spy balloons exist, 

because people don’t get along 

spy balloons exist, 

keeping track 

of whatever nefarious planning 

and digging and building 

and moving around 

must be going on 


and nation-states exist, 

nation-states puffed-up 

and thin-skinned as balloons 

William Aarnes lives in New York. He admires—and thinks everyone should read and reread—Susanna Nied's translation of Ingar Christensen's alphabet.