Ari Banias



In the absence of sunlight,

in the absence of a genuine river,

I blew air into a balloon. I gave my breath over

to its empty shape. I filled & pinched

& no matter how fast I tied it off,

how tight & swift, the air, my own, drained out.

And here I was again and here you were.

Watching? No, imagining.

You were just an idea. So think

what this balloon might represent

if we passed it back and forth

and took turns adding our breath.

What the quick tying might.

And our marveling at its lovely shape,

like an egg but also a tear-drop.

Our hands on it, our fingerprints

darkening its surface all powdery

and matte at first, with a bare sheen.

Think of the balloon sent into a crowd at a party.

How that crowd might move

to keep it in the air, protective

and playful, almost flirting with itself, a crowd

with light volleys will send & resend

a balloon upwards, high above their heads.

Until it drifts down

and asks to be touched by them again.

And with such innocent gestures, they do

though eventually they too will tire of this.

I can’t just say innocent; I know that.

But I’m going to say innocent.

Innocent as a balloon

not meant to last.

Think of it handed

back and forth between us.




Ari Banias is the author of a chapbook, What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). The recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and elsewhere, he is a Stegner fellow in poetry at Stanford. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in 2016.