That Red Balloon Smile

That Red Balloon Smile

Twenty minutes to cover his face
With a brush and dirty mirror
And fifteen minutes more to carefully
Paint on
That red balloon smile.

He travels to the fort
The doorbell rings, calling all soldiers
To the porch.
Immediately bombarded by children who
Pull on his hair, squeeze his nose
and blow kazoos into his pudgy, white face,
The bread to the pigeons
The flesh to the vultures
The seal to the sharks.
He treads softly on the laminate flooring,

His eighteen inch shoes fold as he
Knocks the skirting board.
With the kids on his lap,

Squirming, impatient and eager,
He moulds the balloons
Into long, bendy giraffes,
Into sleek, slender cats,
Into round, stout pigs.

The animals that were given life and shape
Don’t live long.
They are swept up by a dustpan and brush.

His colourful trunk is invaded and the thieves,
Extract his shield and armour,
Wielding them.
They throw the deck of magic cards,
They javelin the extending stick,
They frisbee his magic hat.

It’s 4 o’ clock, the mother shouts
And the children run to the garden.
She hands an envelope to our clown.

He wanders across the hall
Retrieving his loot from the battle
That ensued.
The ball for his nose
The fuzz for his hair
The batteries for his spinning bow-tie.

“Will you be back?” one child asks,
as he retreats to the door.
“Perhaps,” he replies; the clown exits.

He retreats to his single bedroom flat,
Kicks off his shoes and
Pulls out a brush, wiping off
The icing from the cake,
The confetti from the popper,
The wrapping from the presents.

It could have been this or it could have been
Dodging bulls, blowing whistles
Probably with fewer casualties.

Twenty seconds to wipe his face
With a tissue and warm water
And fifteen seconds more
To remove
That red balloon smile. 

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