THE BALLOONS hang on wires in the Marigold Gardens.
They spot their yellow and gold, they juggle their blue and red, they float their faces
on the face of the sky.
Balloon face eaters sit by hundreds reading the eat cards, asking, "What shall we
eat?"—and the waiters, "Have you ordered?" they are sixty balloon faces sifting
white over the tuxedoes.
Poets, lawyers, ad men, mason contractors, smartalecks discussing "educated
jackasses," here they put crabs into their balloon faces.
Here sit the heavy balloon face women lifting crimson lobsters into their crimson faces,
lobsters out of Sargossa sea bottoms.
Here sits a man cross-examining a woman, "Where were you last night? What do you
do with all your money? Who’s buying your shoes now, anyhow?"
So they sit eating whitefish, two balloon faces swept on God’s night wind.
And all the time the balloon spots on the wires, a little mile of festoons, they play their
own silence play of film yellow and film gold, bubble blue and bubble red.
The wind crosses the town, the wind from the west side comes to the banks of
marigolds boxed in the Marigold Gardens. Night moths fly and fix their feet in the leaves and eat and are seen by the eaters.
The jazz outfit sweats and the drums and the saxophones reach for the ears of
The chorus brought from Broadway works at the fun and the slouch of their shoulders,
the kick of their ankles, reach for the eyes of the eaters.
These girls from Kokomo and Peoria, these hungry girls, since they are paid-for, let us
look on and listen, let us get their number.
Why do I go again to the balloons on the wires, something for nothing, kin women
of the half-moon, dream women?
And the half-moon swinging on the wind crossing the town—these two, the half-moon
and the wind—this will be about all, this will be about all.
Eaters, go to it; your mazuma pays for it all; it’s a knockout, a classy knockout—and
payday always comes.
The moths in the marigolds will do for me, the half-moon, the wishing wind and the little
mile of balloon spots on wires—this will be about all, this will be about all.
Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)