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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