- No Illeagles Here, and: Balloon Animal
No Illeagles Here,
spray painted on the side of a building
Yes, I too would banish the sickly eagles, roosted in their brownstones and double wides, their ranch homes and McMansions, picking nits from their wings, brooding their bad eggs. They learned about compassion from the fox that flees the henhouse with blood on his lips, so how can they be expected to feel what the fish feels when it is swept from the river in their bright claws?
On TV, an eagle complains about the crows that have moved in, how they mob him now on the street. So what if his father, and his father’s father, et al., raided their nests, killed their young? That was the past, and at least he works for a living.
He teaches his sons the values of personal responsibility, how to cradle the butt of a Bushmaster M4 Carbine against the shoulder, how to stand their ground. He bows his sharp beak over the supper table, speaks words soft as eider down. He votes his conscience, has heart-to-hearts with his god. He sees what the world is coming to. On his weekends he paces the capitol lawn, holding a handmade sign: “If your not outraged your not paying attention.” [End Page 28]
At sunset, balloon man walks balloon dog through the subdivision of balloon homes. Balloon clouds turn rosy, as at the end of its balloon leash, balloon dog does its balloon business on the balloon lawn. All seems as it has been and will ever be, but in the fading light, something glints by the balloon curb: a tack, its point a ledge balloon man can’t help peering over. He’s never seen something so . . . well, he has no word for it, so he makes one: sharp. He balances that word on his balloon tongue as he lifts the thing, carries it home, balloon dog trotting along behind.
In the darkness of his balloon house, staring at that point, he feels the thinness of his skin, how the taut air inside him longs to get out. He brings it close, almost presses it to his balloon chest, but just then balloon dog whimpers, rubs its tender, knotted nose against his hand. [End Page 29]
Nick Lantz is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently How to Dance as the Roof Caves In (Graywolf, 2014). He teaches at Sam Houston State University and lives in Huntsville, Texas.