Hippie Squared: Freeing “Freeing the Balloons”

Found this old poem the other day.

Photo Credit: faster1974

Photo Credit: faster1974

Over the last few years my wife and I let our home offices fall into a state of intolerable disorganization. Turns out my friend Jenny at work helps people with such problems, and she’s great at it. In our last session (“Three Line Lunch: Being Organized by Jenny”) she had me crack open an old file box of my writing.

This poem was the first folder I pulled out. It’s about twenty-five years old and I had completely forgotten it existed. Even the title on the file folder conjured nothing. But as soon as I opened up the folder and looked at the first line, those first three lines tumbled back into my head, along with the final couplet. And I remembered how much I once loved this poem.

But I still didn’t have the courage to read the whole thing. I was afraid that what I’d written and loved twenty-five years ago would not hold up to my perhaps more seasoned critical faculties of today.

In fact, I had to ask my wife to read it before I could bear to, so she could tell me if she thought it was still any good. She’s got a merciless but loving eye for my work, and will not hesitate to tell me if she thinks something is no good. She’s also free with insightful praise when she likes something.

Well, she liked it. And so I read it again. And lo and behold, I still liked it too. In fact, it’s grown on me, and so I thought I’d trot it out more widely. I hope you like it too. And I’d be interested to know what you see and imagine of the tale it tells.

It’s not something I would ever write now. It’s the product of a younger, more romantic and idealistic Jeff. But I like that Jeff, and it turns out I still like his work—at least this one. Still haven’t dived back into that box yet, though. I’m sure there are horrors in there along with the treasures.

Freeing the Balloons

At the House of the Oh-So-Lonely-Hamburger
In the hot stuffed confines of a bricked-in booth
Clown-windowed to the sun
On a private birthday in this public restaurant
In some sky-blue July or so
I pushed back the window, elbowed
The cash register and microphone
Aside, and carried briefly across
Three thin strings between my fingers
Watching my own hand
As if I were Slow Motion, those thin strings leading
Three bobbing balloons knocking together
And about the upper regions
Of the brown-bricked outside yellow-tiled inside booth
Before they
out of the window
And released from the hand of the gentle outlaw
Danced brightly away up to a cloud
Crowded, bumping there under it for a moment
And then off again, into a smog-rimmed bright blue
Dream of knighthood for the freeing of balloons.