Two Poems

by Annelyse Gelman

The Who’s Who of Ballooning

The scientist got rich off this study showing rich people
were assholes. After that he quit his job and bought

a hot air balloon. He painted it blue and white
and rich people paid him to make them high and invisible.

They hung in the clouds wondering if they were assholes.
One by one the indeterminate sky swallowed their wonder

and their wonder fell straight through it, like a body
through a ghost. Flying isn’t amazing, but it’s amazing to fly, but

in the end it’s always some bird that gets in the way
or some guy in a lawn chair levitated by some birds.

The scientist had a promising career in standup comedy
before he blew his second special only talking in cumulus.

Hypothetical No. 3

They found him floating on Lake Wanaka.
Two of his legs were broken, the others
buoyed by salt and copper. His pocket, half-

open and flapping like a gill, held a manual
for a new kind of train that travels in two
opposite directions at the same time. Ink

dissolving in water, as when a threatened
discovery issues a warning cry. All a test
run for a greater bamboozlement – sand

castles craning their turrets, octopodes fixed
focal lengths in mason jars, drifting gradually
towards the present tense until it’s ominous

when you don’t say I love you. Matisse
paints goldfish, but he’s really painting
the light. I never get tired of light.

Annelyse Gelman is a California Arts Scholar, the inaugural poet-in-residence at UCSD’s Brain Observatory, and recipient of the 2013 Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize and the 2013 Lavinia Winter Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Nailed, and The Destroyer, and her debut poetry collection, ‘Everyone I Love is a Stranger to Someone’, is forthcoming (Write Bloody, 2014). Find her at

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