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Nobody knows why it’s there:
if it was left by a deity,
or a couple, or a father who didn’t want
a black balloon at the wedding,
they didn’t leave a calling card
when they tied it to the lamp-post
for the climbing boy to find.

Once released the balloon attacks
bobbing off his head and arms
as he clings to the ironwork.
The fall is caused by the distraction
rather than the force itself
and breaks a leg -
he might’ve cracked his head too
on the way down.

A man selling hot rice
runs to the aid of the folded boy
and sees the balloon drifting skywards,
like pollution.

Loning over dusty hills
towards the grey tenement
it finds a dog to tease, bouncing
off the windowpane as it yaps in alarm.
This rouses a drunk man,
who bursts onto the balcony lurching outwards he grabs for it
misses, grabs for it, misses, grabs for...
falls
eight storeys:
silently.

The woman carrying bread
encounters her lifeless husband
and her wails are still audible
as the balloon sails across the main road.

Goosing cats and startling drivers and
tempting children into the road and
knocking over ornaments and coffee cups
and whipjerking away in the nick of time
whenever someone tries to clutch it.

The local kids
don’t like this balloon either.
A cluster of them see it fleeting down an alley
so they chase it screeching
and skidding round cobbled corners
and harry it between stained apartments
in inflating swarms.

When it’s finally hounded into the field
and one of the kids gets away a good shot
it dies slowly,
slumps painfully to earth,
cracks, shrinks in the sun.

A booted foot finished the job.
Somewhere in the distance
a dog barked.

All over Paris balloons rip themselves out of fingers
waft out of doorways and windows
and funnel down the roads
to congregate where it lies extinguished.

But they've gathered to celebrate:
we can see them laughing in the zephyr.
I've been thinking about this one on and off for about a year, but it was a ~fotoFRIDAY prompt that rekindled the idea again.

I should highly recommend viewing the French short film, The Red Balloon before reading this. It appears on youtube occasionally, before being taken down by copyright nazis.
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:icondeltabeta:
Deltabeta Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2008
Ooo...Very neat! Est-ce tu sais le language de francais? J'aime francais. :D
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2008   Writer
Merci beaucoup. Mais, aie! Je deteste francais! :bleh:
Reply
:icondeltabeta:
Deltabeta Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2008
Haha...Vraiment?!? Mais, pourquoi?
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2008   Writer
J'ai ne forte pas en francais. C'est vraiment.
Reply
:icondeltabeta:
Deltabeta Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2008
D'accord... C'est cool. lawls... Je pense tu est cool. Nous parlons en francais, et je voudrais pas Anglais parce que Francais est meillure. lol...
Reply
:iconitti:
Itti Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
Creepy! I got goosebumps! (Although it's a little cold in here too ;))
I really liked
falls
eight storeys:
silently.

Thanks for the line to le balon rouge as well - it's a very well done film that I hadn't had the opportunity to see before.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2007   Writer
Yes. It's one of those films that could never be made now, since they wouldn't dare ask a kid to climb a lamp post or suchlike.

Thanks for reading. :~)
Reply
:iconitti:
Itti Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
Heh. Yeah there is that.
No problem, I enjoyed it very much :)
Reply
:iconferengcheng:
FerengCheng Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2007   Writer
Such is life, huh?
This could so easily happen in real life...
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2007   Writer
It could? :paranoid:
Reply
:iconferengcheng:
FerengCheng Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2007   Writer
Shhh! Of course it could :nod:
Reply
:iconiscariot-priest:
Iscariot-Priest Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2007
That is one wicked balloon. I love that you use such unusual verbs, I didn't even know one could loon about.

Since the first letter in every line (that doesn't come after a period) is in lowercase, it seems odd that silently (last line, stanza 4) is in capital. Intentional or accidental?

eight storeys:
Silently.


All in all, totally enjoyable. Faved ;-)
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2007   Writer
Ooops, well spotted on the capitalized Silently. That was erroneous. Silly me.

'Loning' is an example of me verbing an adjective. It is of course grammatically atrocious, but I liked the way it sounded a little bit like 'roaming', whilst emphasizing the solitude.

Thank you very much for the read and the fave. :~)
Reply
:iconiscariot-priest:
Iscariot-Priest Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2007
My pleasure :bow:
Reply
:iconfelixt:
FelixT Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2007
Delicious read. :)

I especially like the narrative aspect of this well executed piece.

I wonder why you picked Paris as a setting?
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2007   Writer
It was also the setting for the original film, The Red Balloon, on which this is based, but thinking about it, I could have set this anywhere.

Thanks for the read. :~)
Reply
:icongarnet-43:
Garnet-43 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2007
Deliciously dark. I especially like the end, where all the other balloons gather. A piquant ending.

Most enjoyable.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2007   Writer
Thank you very much. :heart:
Reply
:icondamnedlostsoul:
damnedlostsoul Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2007
:D. I don't know if it's just me but I actually find this story witty and hilarious. Nevertheless, this is a very good piece of art. And I really like it. The wat the balloon caused all the catastrophes indirectly made it so amusing to read. :)
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2007   Writer
Brillo. I'm glad you enjoyed it and rated it so highly. Thanks for the fave too. :~)
Reply
:icondamnedlostsoul:
damnedlostsoul Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2007
Ooops. Typo on my comment. :p... silly me...

The wat the balloon = The way the balloon... :D
Reply
:iconbornahorse:
bornahorse Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2007
Oooh that's kinda of dark...
I rememeber watching The Red Balloon over my grandmother's house, although I don't remember much about it, except the little kid kept say "balloon, balloon" over and over again. Was it a film without words? Or did someone narrorate it? I don't remember...
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2007   Writer
There's a youtube link in the description. The film had a few words in French, but it was mostly accompanied by music.

Thanks for the read. :~)
Reply
:iconmargerite:
margerite Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2007   Writer
Interesting :)

I can imagine this as a Tim Burton animation.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2008   Writer
Thank you. (I missed this comment the first time) =p
Reply
:iconinsomaniac55:
insomaniac55 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007   Writer
You should really have this poem under narrative. The little story it takes you on is so good.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2007   Writer
Oh and thank you for the fave too. :~)
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2007   Writer
I immediately rushed to the category section intending to change it from 'open' to 'narrative', when I realized that 'narrative' is regarded as a subject matter rather than a style. Silly categories!

I prefer horror and macabre, just so my more squeamish watchers shall know what they're letting themselves in for.
Reply
:iconbogbrush:
Bogbrush Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007
Very enjoyable, and I like how you've made the balloon something sinister and malevolent.

I think the most enduring image of the poem though, has to be the gathering of the balloons at the end to either celebrate the deeds of a fallen hero or to celebrate the death of a rogue.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2007   Writer
The angle of a fallen hero hadn't occurred to me at all. That's an interesting one. Maybe balloons resent people and are itching to cause all sorts of trouble?
Reply
:iconbogbrush:
Bogbrush Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2007
That wouldn't surprise me. I used to find balloons disturbing when I was little, I think it was the rubber texture and smell.
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:iconretrozombie:
RetroZombie Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007
I have to disagree with ~SpokenAubade, I found the opening quite engaging. The whole piece flows nicely throughout.

However, there is one line I keep finding awkward no matter how often I read it:
who bursts onto the balcony lurching outwards he grabs for it
I can't shake the feeling that it should be broken into two lines (just a personal preference, of course ^^;)

The ninth stanza is my favorite - imagining the distant dog barking put me right in the moment.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007   Writer
That line lurches outwards like that on purpose. It's a bit of a crude piece of typography really, but sometimes the blunt weapons make the biggest impression.

I'm glad you enjoyed the dog bark. The original film also had a dog bark at the moment of death, and I was very pleased how well it worked in the poem too.

Thanks for the read and fave. :~)
Reply
:iconretrozombie:
RetroZombie Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007
Ah, yes. It all comes clear to me, now. :nod:
Reply
:iconspokenaubade:
SpokenAubade Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007
To be honest, I had to suspend my skepticism for the first few stanzas to continue reading. The opening just didn't catch me at all, (but I know your poetry, and you've earned my reader-trust :D ).

And I was so glad I read it all.

S3 "like pollution" was wonderful. I fell in love with lines in 6 and 7.

I :heart: your writing. Spiffy-Spifftaculous.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007   Writer
Yes, this one makes up for its weak beginning and hefty length by at least being easy to read. I'm very glad you stuck with it until the third stanza, when it started getting more interesting.

Thanks for reading and for the :heart:. :blowkiss:
Reply
:iconlilithlairpoetry:
LilithLairPoetry Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007
Dark and noir-esque...an interesting combo to add balloons as the topic....
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007   Writer
Noir-esque. I like that. Thanks for the fave too. :~)
Reply
:iconlilithlairpoetry:
LilithLairPoetry Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007
Yeah gotta love that -esque..you can use any word with it...

AbCat-esque
Shit-esque
Bitch-esque
Deviant-esque...etc.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2007   Writer
I once referred to someone as a Piltdown-esque ruse. That was funny.
Reply
:iconbrokensemaphore:
brokensemaphore Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007
ohh, I loved the movie, thank you for that. and such a lovely literary interpretation too.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007   Writer
Coo. Thank you. :heart:
Reply
:icondebdatta:
Debdatta Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007
I love the imagery present out here.

Goosing cats and startling drivers and
tempting children into the road and
knocking over ornaments and coffee cups

I like these lines.

It’s amazing to think that a simple balloon can cause so much trouble. It’s sad to picture the incidents. But still I love the poet’s power of imagination. Other than that, I love the words used here. Its bit different like, ‘congregate’ and ‘zephyr’ instead of meet and breeze.

As a whole great composition! :)
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:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007   Writer
Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed the words. :~)
Reply
:icondebdatta:
Debdatta Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007
Its my pleasure!

Have a beautiful day! :)
Reply
:iconshahath:
shahath Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2007
"Once released the balloon attacks
bobbing off his head and arms
as he clings to the iron work."

^ A terrific line, probably my favorite for this work. It has just the amount of beautiful imagery needed to start a stanza, and though it's the second in the poem, it was this line (or stanza, however you'd like to look at it) that really started the piece. Which is likely why I love it so much. But 'eh, that's me.

"Goosing cats and startling drivers and
tempting children into the road and
knocking over ornaments and coffee cups
and whipjerking away in the nick of time
whenever someone tries to clutch it."

^ Not that I didn't enjoy the bulk of this stanza, but I think "and" was processed somewhat abundantly than what could've been used. I have no place to offer any sort of suggestion, as I've done the same innumerably before, but I thought it should be brought up, since it did have a break in the rhythm. For me, anyway.


Altogether, though, I dug it. A great entry for the competition, still one of the best I've read so far.
:heart: Good luck, man.
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007   Writer
Competition? Which competition? That sounds interesting.

I'm glad you liked the second stanza, though I've just closed the space between 'iron' and 'work' since I saw that in your quotation.

That stanza with the 'ands' may seem a little lazy, but it needed to be faster partly because the incidents are less spectacular, and also because I risk boring the reader if I drag these out over any length of time. It may be a bit of an obvious trick to pull, but I wanted to move the story on a little and I think it was the only option.

I'm glad you enjoyed this though. Thank you for the critique too. :~)
Reply
:iconshahath:
shahath Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007
Yeah, I noticed that. It's still great, if knowing that mattered
And when you brought up *fotoFRIDAY in your description, that's when I thought of the competition they have going on. My apologies for mistaking this piece for submission. :heart:
Reply
:iconabcat:
AbCat Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007   Writer
I have actually entered it now, but in *laurengary's parody contest. :~)
Reply
:iconshahath:
shahath Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007
Ah. Well, at least now the buoyancy I offered earlier can be validated, right?
Reply
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