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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Al Ortolani

Helium Balloon

Late. No sleep. Too many thoughts rolling through my brain. I suppose the expectations for summer. No classroom to wear me down. No morning grind to exhaust my thinking. I’m unleashed from earth and flying through the ether like a helium balloon, untethered by string. A snapped string dangling in ambient light.

night bird, a
perched among shadows

I’ve taken a pill to help me settle. Another night of trains. The little fountain in the garden gurgles between them. Sirens run 87th street. More than one. Probably police. Drama unfolds while the Monday city sleeps.

in the city’s roses,
a whiskey bottle
half-filled with rain

A train locomotive throbs from the yards downtown into the vast night of the prairie beyond. They run all night along the old Santa Fe Trail. Steel tracks gleam. Commerce. Consumption. Cunning. Miles from the edge of the city, a coyote follows the darkness that winds like a river between houses.