Another Ransom Note
The midway glows red in the bottomless eyes of a barn owl, a crazy surprise in the
hazy dusk of that sky. He swerves around a stray balloon, a suddenly broken circuit in
that circus of rising air darkness brings.
The owl storms the deepening sky, balloons suddenly into his own abrupt fold.
Silent, permanent night. Bursting, like a puff of snow against a windshield. Cotton candy
staining the midway dust red.
What symbolic child is this appearing to claim the body of loss, who cannot lay to
rest the carnival of human needs? What darkness behind the eyes of his kidnapped past?
Pay the price. Take your chances. Red eyes dance in the night air
where men with money buy their tickets to a new life feathered in fear, barking sudden as
a balloon bursting with rewards.
Forgive me. I had another life to live. I couldn’t afford to let anyone report me
missing. I lied. I reported the night, as always, had been
arrested and later released. And I folded my tent, my ticket, my wings,
stole into the passing night, my body releasing a sigh, reading pleasures into that note
pinned to its cloak.
Every minute a fortune I pay and pay.
I give them what they want. I am the last clue to a true story wrapped in a brown
paper bag. It’s too late to let you go, I say, knowing this debt can never be paid, trying to
because I’m more the child to that life I thought I lived than I am to the one I did.
In time self-pity escapes me, but I repeat the missing payoff in a new lifetime of
suitcases filled with whatever you asked for because I no longer know what I want.
Perhaps it’s enough. The carnival tears me down and I caravan to the next missing
child. I tell them what they want and I listen to myself,
shaping their lost lives into headlines, and I go back to work selling tickets to the daily
news of children screaming with fearful pleasure, released into their ballooning adult
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.