Walking through the barns
among the huge horses,
the immense cows,
in the farm exhibit
the last day of the fair . . .
Watching the Chinese acrobat
on top of six chairs
placed on four green bottles . . .
Watching the sketch-artist
do her last
quick portrait of the day,
to take a number.
Eating a two-dollar hot-dog
while watching the
shivering twilight divers
dive into their
little vat of water . . .
(first pub. in Tule Review, Premier Issue, 1993;
also in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9-10-13)
MEANT FOR EACH OTHER
You will find her on a lone road—coming out of the trees,
maybe, or simply standing under the gray threat of rain when
you drive by in your car . . .
or maybe she will be in a bar somewhere, twisting slightly
on the barstool, shaking her foot to her dark thoughts, and
you will be there to save her thoughts, for you know how to
save her . . .
or in a bookstore, she may be concentrating down the aisles
to where you are, and she will glance at you when you glance
at her, and maybe you will be reaching for the same book . . .
or she may be at some carnival or fair—laughing in simple
pleasure, at a ride, or game, or sideshow—and she will turn
away at the last moment—or you will—and you will miss
each other, as you always do . . .
THEY ADVERTISE THEIR THEATRE
He stands posed
with the bride’s hand
under his hand.
She a mannekin.
He a mime.
They stand in the carnival
to advertise their theatre.
He wears greasepaint
and a bright silk costume.
She wears white lace.
Her wig is crooked
and she leans in a rigid way.
His locked smile holds
through the audience-prod
of taunts and questions;
he tilts himself
in their direction,
blanks his eyes.
A mime is not to answer.
And she just smiles.
TRAGEDY AND TRAGEDY, FADING OUT
After Carnival Evening by Henri Rousseau
Where are we now but in some dream together,
emerging a dark woods—
two mimes in white costumes,
wandering through a night-sketch—
late of a country carnival
(how long ago?)
displaced by time, perhaps,
the winter-stricken trees already lonely
for our presence
as we slowly diminish—
two cloud-wisps emulating us—
the cold and following white moon about to weep.
left in carnival places—such as
memory—stacked one behind
the other—with all their faces.
Some have fallen—left to be
walked on—their dimensions
worthless. Leaning walls are
but walls now—no more
trick angles and placements
for losing yourself. If you
get caught among them
the EXIT sign is always
Do not show us the hag of our dreams—her chest laughing-
lady motor—huge; and as we shrink to enter, we feel her
breathing; we feel her motor beating, and we are in her
carnival. She is lined with mirrors and makes us stand before
them while she contorts to scare us. We must laugh and point
our fingers at each other. If we displease her she will not let
us out. She thinks we love her.
DANCE OF THE FACE-DRAWER
I remind you,
and you nod your
and I feel I have convinced you.
I do not like it this time either.
It smiles too wrong
and keeps looking older.
3) I am beautiful anyway,
I say and its laugh darkens
and I must give it another mouth.
4) The eyes look funny
and the hair
such a long shining rope.
5) And I start the dance over again.
Thin rope dance—
dance of my body
and my rage.
The sad dance—
clumsy as a life at stake.
IN THE MIRAGE
all the want is there
in the mirage
we are fooled by
distance and desire
in the long hurry
we never get there
at night time
we dream of this :
appear in our lakes,
move slowly toward us,
but they are ours
we hold them in our arms
and circle together
in the direction of air
at the edge of us
the mirage breathes
and opens up
its other dimension
Now, out of all the Motherings,
comes benign little Rabbit-Prop—
dressed homey, in old-fashioned mode.
Mother-child sets her in a comfy rocking chair
upon the floral rug to soften the squeak
while Mother Rabbit struggles to grasp the
heavy book of Fairy Tales with her thumb
and porcelain fingers to balance herself
against this awkwardness of metaphor—
for how can she be expected to
handle this proxy as Rabbit-Mother
of Fairy Tales to explain all the morals of.
When I was a child I read of
Princesses, and Kings, and Queens.
Life was a fairy tale—a book—
pages and pages of yearning and learning.
There was a real Queen in the world.
I read of her. She had two daughters…
two real princesses… my age… like me…
I could be a princess, too, with them.
I wore a tiara, my costume, my royal life.
I felt familial.
We occupied the same story world.
It was real.
I did not stay a princess.
I became a girl. I became a woman.
I became old, like the Queen, like me. Now.
Hail to the Queen. She is still alive.
Like me. We still live.
This is not a political poem.
DANCE OF THE WEB-FAIRY
After The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers
by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
Once upon a dance, upon a thread of light
that stretched from stem to stem of leaf and
flower—oh—once upon a fairy tale, archaic
as a dream, upon a morning drenched with
meadow-dew—the ancient fairy—weightless
as a shadow, danced upon the dwindling
hour of the night, and the two lost children
woke, and smiled, and held each other.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her wonderful carnival of images as she explores our Seed of the Week, At the Fair! Our new Seed of the Week is Flying. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to firstname.lastname@example.org. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.
And don’t forget the CLA workshop by Bob Pimm today at 11:30am at the Avid Reader in Sacramento: A Legal Guide to Traditional Book Publishing. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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