Eric Helms

A bright splash of toilet water
from the top hat
of late Mr. Bloom.

He had failed to yield at a stop sign,
kept tapping his cane
across Broadway, was run over
by one of those broom-
sweeping vehicles.

The ridiculous length of his stove pipe.
I’d bought it on eBay
for temporary use—first as a fish bowl.
Then, as the weather
drew worse, an aeruginous hole in the ice.

My rod was a vertiginous stick of bamboo
tied to a pink line of telephone cord;
I had hammered a nail into the shape
of something between a ‘j’ and a ‘u’

then stole out to hook a couple piranhas
with a minimal strip of fortune; something
about flying squirrels from last week’s cookie.
Lucky numbers 32, 33, 36, 5, 55, 10.


I watched the monstrous pigeons splash
until the next morning woke for me
to unfold his wobbly-legged, jerry-
built ladder, up which I led
a flickering 60-watt
angle, climbing
an Eiger before arriving
beneath the roof of late Mr. Bloom.
It was there that I found the lemon sail ​
of his kite in line with a last bullet
from his postcard–by coffin nail, socked
to a rafter. Its flying saucer shape was
that of a squirrel and quite the dumb show,
hanging dead over a properly labeled box:

Three fly swatters, five yo-yos, two tennis trophies
followed by a grenade of No Replacements Found.


Tired of the minimal frill
and luxury
of Bloom’s attic-

I lowered his lemon sail
through a passing flock
of cumulous, descended
the diminished scale
of his ladder’s pike,
proceeded to firmly
plant my left boot
on the mattress
I had placed
to cushion
any little fear of falling
to my very own death.


In line with his last request,
I added a flattened fifth
to his postcard’s
minor scale of bullets
and points then folded ​
the ladder back to the cull
of its accordion shape
before setting off
for a great field.
There I would dust
his lemon sail off, patch
what the nail had pierced,
the moths had chewed.


The wind’s song came early
with dawn’s pink proverbial
chink of bright key notes.
I made short work
of the lemon sail’s repair—
patched what the nail
had pierced, the moths
had chewed then went
to swap the kite’s spine
and spar with a pliable
cross of bamboo. In line
with his last bullet,
I crept a bleach-tight line
and, in his own sky-
blue suit, thought myself quite
Klee’s Portrait of an Equilibrist
All the way to the dead
galactic crown of Bloom’s
blue pitch, which he had kept
central to increase the wind’s song.​


Adding a crooked pulse
to the wind’s
perse of tremolo,
with a javelin’s toss,
I lent his lemon sail up
a scorpion’s scale,
brightly watched
the ridiculous splice
of pink cord
curl off the spool
‘til the line cut
and the kite’s tail bit
into a puff of cumulous,
which then spread
for Bloom’s last orange
wisp of hair.

Eric Helms is the founding editor of flr_pln. His latest work is forthcoming or has appeared in Prelude, Phantom Limb, Diagram, Rhino: 2016, MadHat Lit, American Athenaeum, Souvenir and Blunderbuss.

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