Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday evening could have gone better, I guess

  He put the coffee
  In the cup
  He put the milk
  In the cup of coffee
  He put the sugar
  In the café au lait
  With the coffee spoon
  He stirred
  He drank the café au lait
  And he set down the cup
  Without a word to me
  He lit
  A cigarette
  He made smoke-rings
  With the smoke
  He put the ashes
  In the ash-tray
  Without a word to me
  He got up
  He put
  His hat upon his head
  He put his raincoat on
  Because it was raining
  And he left
  In the rain
  Without a word
  Without a look at me
  And I  I took
  My head in my hand
  And I cried.

Sometimes the balloon does not go up, sometimes it goes where one least expects - except that misdirection is to be expected. One can take the elaboratest precautions to defy the fact, without changing it: one is not the balloon. I deny that the play is ill judged, and I know better than to deny tears. One can manipulate ballast, jettison things, adjust the inflation; one can exercise a good deal of control, or less, which is only harder; but when the mooring is lifted, publication is a balloon. I like it when the balloon goes up, and when it does not, there can be suffering, but no regret. I am a balloonist.

That figure who enjoyed my coffee, smoked in my house, got up and left? I figure, he knew that, and already knew or quickly discovered, ballooning is not for him. Here's a publication which will gain, on any given occasion, the most intense referral, igniting a spontaneous blaze for a single insertion, which originally may simply smoulder in a corner somewhere, for weeks. Comparatively few people habituate this publication, but I do know something about them all. They are balloonists, too. I have one in particular in mind, who can help to illuminate this lark, and who happens to inspire its argument.

Beyond any doubt, he is a cultivated master of his craft, but his passion is to suspend all of that in the pursuit (I beg you to believe) of surfable waves, a species of ballooning known for saltier countenances than our aerialism allows. He writes to me, that the season at his favourite marine haunt is somewhat tepid this year, that they have had years of finer waves - vintages, can you stand it, pretty much exactly as Virgil said; but the company has been marvelous. This is our tendency. If you will the risk, to be tumbled or stolen aloft, you will the company; and sometimes, you must be. 

This morning, then, dispatching the spent coffee and airing out the place from that nervous cigarette, already there are readers who have scattered, and frankly the vestigial company is marvelous. Here, text is not a verb, and only a piece of the noun, which is context; and that is where the balloon, the surfboard is drawn. It's Friday, but the game is still ballooning. We gauge the wave. We pick our breeze; and both are always volatile. The thing is, to let go the line. Faites vos jeux.

The balloon may go up.

Jacques Prévert
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, translation
City Lights Books, 1958©



  1. I hope each increases more and more

  2. balloonist all. very interesting. I too like no strings attached.

  3. I'm trying to discuss a shared willingness to pursue an unscripted journey, not necessarily to refuse strings (notice the last couple of lines of the poem). The line let go is the line of assured redundancy in travel.

  4. the poem
    the post
    one of your most beautiful
    by far.

    brevity and clarity

  5. I wish you some better Thursday, many many more...

  6. Thank you for your wish, I shall promote it to "demand" rank and see what I can do. And for you, the gorgeous book the periodicals couldn't handle if they tried, on the African journey. Merci.