Bits and Pieces [The Legend Of an Old Man and the Balloon Popper]

18 Jan

You could tell by his long thinning hair below his bowler hat

Strings pulled and floating behind him

Was an old man, holding within shaking hands,

All sizes of brightly colored balloons; embossed in abstract bold print

Announcing all of his life’s successes and failures.

Strolling along the streets,  skipping past the alleys,

Looking up at his balloons,

He would speak to himself in a loud but timid pitch;

“Free! Life’s balloons! 

Pick a color. Go ahead, pick a size above the strings,

Pick anyone you please.”


No one ever did. Bits and pieces in his pace as he slowly moved,

In constant pursuit with purpose, holding his balloons.



Carrying a large white plastic handbag

Strapped between sagging breasts and tucked behind aging wings,

Carrying bulging contents that peeked in-between striding elbows,

Was an old Angel with a dull Halo; suspended above short cropped bluing grey hair.

With systematic jerks of her head looking up and down the streets,

She would give directions to her wings like a bird of prey.

A determined hunter; for that old man she did seek.


Her search begins in the dampness of dawn.

Always walking on the opposite side of the street ready to cross if need be.

She never stops looking, never stops shaking her head.


Gripped with white knuckles in one hand

Unable to be released, were bits and pieces

That glittered on the copper needle she carried.


Day of enlightenment almost caught up with the old man.

But, it did not. He was ambushed yesterday,

In the blur of wings and a redemptive screech,

Every balloon he carried was popped.


The old man continues to walk in a crushed cap,

Carrying  strings over his shoulder, begging

“Free! Sturdy strings! Free well tugged twine.

Have this one, please take this one,

I have had them now for much too long.”

i gaze at my reflection at  bits and pieces, starfish,

crabs, and broken shells in a shallow

tidal pool

Written on Star Island,Portsmouth,NH on a writers retreat..rev.2020


Posted by on January 18, 2020 in Existential, Life, Outlaw, Poetry, Zen


Tags: , , ,

15 responses to “Bits and Pieces [The Legend Of an Old Man and the Balloon Popper]

  1. Susie Clevenger

    January 21, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    Sounds to me like that was a very dark angel. She robbed him of his bright color, but it didn’t stop him. He gave freely from what was left.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jaerose37

    January 21, 2020 at 5:25 am

    What a touching story poem

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wendy Bourke

    January 20, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    This is an awesome story … and wonderfully rendered, to boot. Lots to linger over here … though for me … it was a message of how we – so often – hang on to that which directs the course of our days … without questioning ‘why’ – without letting go and freeing ourselves from ‘stuff’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar

    January 20, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    an angel? hmm, well the old man seems to have the spirit … make do with what you have, move on, change if you must, but keep trying. Now, for that naughty angel…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sanaarizvi

    January 20, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    My goodness this is good!! 💝 The closing poem gave me goosebumps!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hhennenburg

    January 20, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    I wonder if the man, himself, finds value in his balloons (and strings).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beverly Crawford

    January 20, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Seems there’s always someone with a dull halo and a copper needle to pop our balloons. Still …. we have our strings!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Magaly Guerrero

    January 19, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    I can see the old man and the old angel so clearly. And the details linger, make me wonder about their lives before this time, about how the angel’s halo went dull…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    January 19, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Gracious, what a story! Arresting on many levels. The closing poem is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jim

    January 19, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    A lot for us to identify with here, RK. Your hero is s plucky old fellow who doesn’t give up easily. He sounds a bit cracked to me though, we had a guy like that in my home town, his bit was shaking hands and mumbling to everyone he encountered.
    I don’t think he is super old, not yet my age. I haven’t been able to skip for five years.
    I envy you being at the writer’s conference. I am thinking your ending, change-the-subject-I’m-done-here, is a fairly new technique, I haven’t seen it before. It could be unique to you?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Stranded Tree

    January 19, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    When what he had to offer was destroyed, the optimism remained to offer what he still had. If I could have such optimism, I believe I could conquer the world of sorts. It doesn’t seem like he had a guardian angel but the angel ambushed the old man. I like these small stories that evolve with each reading. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. gillena cox

    January 19, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    He just kept going like the energizer bunny, sad about the popped balloons though

    Happy Sunday ZQ


    Liked by 1 person


    January 19, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    I want the old angel and man to meet. The balloons ground this in color.Will had just let them go?

    Liked by 2 people

  14. magicalmysticalteacher

    January 19, 2020 at 11:45 am

    When you can’t give away balloon, you offer strings? So be it! Long live the old man!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sherry Marr

    January 18, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    I’I’m glad you are on a writer’s retreat, kiddo. I have met that balloon popper a time or two. I’m like the old man – there are still Useful Strings to be had. Smiles. Lovely to read you, as always.

    Liked by 1 person


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