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Wittgenstein's Balloons

Rishi Dastidar

We now know balloons are sentient,
the surprise is that it has taken us
so long to realise it, what with all
the hot air that we have been filling

them with; despite ourselves it turns out
that the breath, and the chat encoded
with it, especially the traces of nitrogen,
were particularly good at conveying

philippics, epigrams and tripartite
arguments around the nature and limits
to cognition; oh and the nanocellbots
within the latex are particularly good at

and are desperate to learn. After all, if
bronze, gold, iron, silver and silicon can
change the world, let alone the skeletons
of micro-organisms with a treacle fixation,

why couldn’t latex expand until the planet
was covered in thoughts? But not speaking,
because as it turns out what latex is most
interested in is in recreating Wittgenstein,

bringing him back from the dead, because
it is convinced that the Tractatus could be
shorter, pithier – say it in one Ludo, say it
in one! And of course could any of us not

be charmed by the sight of him, one July
afternoon, gently gliding down, holding
10 pink balloons in his left hand, 23
yellow ones in his right, an aeronautical
rhubarb and custard using his tweed

trousers to navigate to a safe landing
ground. The balloons have other ideas
though; their cackling gets louder, and
with high-squealed glee, they pop pop

themselves and into the Cam he goes!
The ghosts of their thoughts are lodged
into the heads of the silent crowds, and
they say: what price your language now?

A poem from Rishi Dastidar’s debut Ticker-tape was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. A pamphlet, the break of a wave, was published by Offord Road Books in 2019. His second collection, Saffron Jack, is published in the UK by Nine Arches Press. He is also editor of The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century (Nine Arches Press).

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