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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016
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Claire Everett
Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England


Fire balloons . . .

for Owen and Theo, with apologies—and thanks—to Ray Bradbury

you’d never heard of them before. And they’re as beautifully alien to you as the idea of a grandfather, or a Waukegan Fourth of July. Yet, of late, you've started to more than wonder. It’s not so much the book you can’t put down as the writer.

there goes another
born of the breath
of fire,
lifting on paper wings
into the still night air

Words like stars, glimmering on your lashes so you have to blink them away. Words that come like dark-fuzzed bees to make brood comb of the chambers of your heart. You’re hungry. Plenty more where that came from. But—

You have to slow down, you say, because the end is written, you've seen it already, like the bottom of the last box of fire balloons. Then what will you do? Me? I'm making hay because tomorrow might never come. There’s more than one way to tell a story: you can plan everything down to the last page-turner, plot-twist and em dash, or you can clatter down the stairs to the library typing room, slot in the dime that sets the timer ticking, and hammer out your money’s worth. To each his own; one man’s Farewell Summer is another’s Dandelion Wine.

let’s raise a glass
to these stoppered bottles
of stopped clocks
and how we chased the light
through a meadow of suns

But there is more. He died with it in his head. The dime ran out and the Remington sputtered into silence. Who knows what thought was about to come wailing through the fog like a lonely creature from a million years ago; what curious emotion was destined to swirl like a godly, damselfly-globe of light to scoop up some future you and stop you from dashing yourself on the rocks of another ordinary day?

writing ourselves
into the story . . .
a fire balloon bound
for the blue remembered hills
of a faraway dusk

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