any other night

flecked with flashes

small surprises

notes bouncing: balloons

circus light swoons

balloons off the wall

pop pop squeak and

pop balls (mostly 

red) sticking to you

companions in your


floating into the hundred

watt bulb and bursting

pop! pieces fall at

your feet flightless




Andy Laties and his sister, during his Child's Play days
Andy Laties and his sister, during his Child's Play days

My friend Andy Laties, author, bookseller, and musician extraordinaire, when he performed with me in Child's Play had an interesting practice of carrying black balloons in his pocket. He said that they were weather balloons because black is easier to see in the sky. 

Andy carried these balloons and would randomly offer one to someone he'd just met. He'd pull it from his pocket, inflate it fast (a wind-instrument musician he has excellent breath control) and hand it to the stranger who would now be his friend. No conditions and no expectations, just a free black balloon.


That has nothing to do with this poem, but mentioning balloons always reminds me of Andy.

Oh, and yes, you really should read Andy's books.

Book and Puppet Company:

Rebel Bookseller:

Son of Rebel Bookseller:

The Music Thief:

Living Ur Sonata: on Google books here.

A more recent photo of Andy

A more recent photo of Andy

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No One Expected Moses

  No One Expected Moses -- collage by douglas brent smith 4 August 1983