Pioneer Balloonist

Such lengthy preparations

At times even by lantern light.

Assembling platforms, pipes, funnels, vats,

Iron filings, oil of vitriol.

The poor paying their pennies,

Toffs their guineas,

Angry with impatience as the hours pass.

Then the tumult of effervescence, stench of fumes,

Clamour from the crowd as they fix the valves.

The balloon swelling to a hundred feet in girth,

The fabric, panelled in turquoise. green and red.


He is standing in the gallery,

Tricorn hat, military jacket, velvet. trousers,

Then the release of hooks, ropes,

The balloon soaring above a pavement of heads,

Church bells ringing, cattle stampeding.

The excitation of air with his oars,

Swift lift and away from the town.


From the twelve acre wood

The collective sound of a thousand birds.

The rise to ten thousand feet

Then silence,

The envelope glistening with frost,

Ropes like bars of ice.

Then the valve’s release and the slow descent.

Drifting – drifting.

Down into a snow of love letters

And five proposals of marriage.



© Derek Power