Balloon Seller

Barely five

Spunk, fifteen

and the wit, fifty

The balloons he carries

bobbing on the ends of sticks

like his head

on the pike carved by poverty

he manages to keep it upright

but they push him down

seldom bullied

but ignored

not worth the effort

lowest of the low

a mere fruit fly

in a world of leeches

craving better blood.

 

His father showed him

everything he shouldn’t be

but he became anyway

the cycle destined to repeat

forever set on a loop

the rich get richer

the rest get wearier.

 

And once more he chants

“bhaiyya, le lo na ek”

“behen, oh behen, de do na kuch”

and once more he sees

how they unsee him

and one last time

he disappears

into the river

his balloons bobbing

in the water

but his head

nowhere to be seen.

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Pride and Poverty

I wish thought could be spread like largesse to the public, neurons joined and signals sent, brainwaves created and brilliance born instead of billions. Statistics say 12.7% live below the poverty line, a line defined by currency, its value built on slave labour and sweatshops, finite resources and infinite greed. Maybe it’s the 87.3% who live in poverty, not of money but of mind, not of material goods but of human good. Maybe the line exists because we’re all impoverished, mentally, intellectually; a reason for the lack of equality, for the festering prejudices and growing intolerance. Maybe that’s why we have humanitarian problems and global crises and sensationalized conflicts; the line is crooked, it’s broken in a few places, people slip in and out of it like borders of war torn nations. Maybe there’s no need for a line at all, maybe we’re all poor but too proud to acknowledge it.

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Statue at Miramar