The Rise and Fall of Lawnchair Larry
In the ‘Inspiration’, a patio chair tied to helium-filled weather balloons, Larry Walters inadvertently rose to a height of 15,000 feet and drifted into federal airspace before crash-landing into power lines, gaining overnight fame in the process. He later committed suicide in Angeles National Forest.
The Inspiration scuds me through emptiness.
Silence volleys up on the thermals, bears me
creaking on plastic slats. I realise now
I have trusted my life to hope and knotwork.
Strange. I always thought this would feel weightless.
Blue light collapses, ribboning red. Down there,
guys like me will be dreaming with the view,
will have it in their crosshairs, will have mapped
their invisible territories. Even here,
I drift into someone else’s flight path. It seems
so much depends. My boots dangle, huge,
over cities stacked high with hearts and heads.
Even here, a man can’t just sit around.
I crack a beer. The cap spins, glinting, to earth.
Circuit-board city winking to blackout.
Power lines have made a resistor of me.
Tonight, we will rediscover candlelight,
see how all that we love can flicker.
Forest of faces. Another dinner,
another tall tale. I’m inflated
to bursting. You know, so much depends
on the story. Beginning, flight, and then …
The Inspiration sags in a garage,
its sandbags dribbling. Time is running out.
This body suddenly lacking ballast,
called forever upwards. We all have to try
our limits. This sky, just a balloon’s span
bullet-holed. The sun reaching through.