Little SD logo

Page O' Poems  


Gaunt she is upon a pale horse,
and her demon rides behind her.

The carnival is empty.
Candy wrappers and soda cups swirl across the stiffening mud.
Red flags snap over the deserted big top--
a hill of stained and tumorous yellow beneath the lowering sky.
The House of Mirrors creaks:
warped grey boards and dusty glass,
spiders and shadows,
fat and thin and all the horrors in between.
The trampled fields are littered with ticket stubs and peanut shells:
memories of spinning rides and games won,
of vomiting excess and games lost.
Frost and dead leaves replace sweat and fried dough.
Cheap toys, hard won, lie forgotten.
A lonely abandoned wind sweeps away the echoes
of barkers, screaming, and laughter.
Only the slow calliope remains.

Her white hands are cold and tight around the golden pole.
She perches on the tiny white horse--
cast in mid-gallop, rolling eyes and open mouth.
Her forehead is pressed to the pole,
dark hair framing her face,
tangling in the wind.
Her grey eyes are closed.
She swallows.

Up, down, and--slowly--all around:
The merry-go-round drifts along.
The mare rises,
and falls again.
The girl breathes,
and swallows,
and does not let go.
She does not open her eyes.

The demon is a shadow of smoke behind her:
a jeering face of teeth,
a gargoyle's bitter wings,
grey claws sunk into the plastic horse flesh beneath
and into the girl's hunched shoulders ahead.
He nuzzles his sharp chin along her neck
and whispers into her hair:
lies and abuse and promises--
a slow sick calliope of love.
He caresses her and she shudders.

I have ridden upon the dragon beside her.
I have waited on the bench ahead.
Around and around on the merry-go-round
in this empty carnival.

But what know I of smoke and mirrors?
What know I of demons?

Now I stand lonely, torn ticket in hand.
The ground is hard beneath my feet.
The wind blows cold.

Gaunt she is upon a pale horse,
and her demon rides behind her.

--Z.T. 28 Jul 2008