Oct 182014
 
Killing time after work, I take the public 
boardwalk to get back to our seaside carrousel
bulking abandoned on a sandy Asbury bank
where a month of Sunday sales circulars
chase each other like kids on summer break,
playing Mother-may-I as the wind says stop or go,
hissing "Yes, you may" politely as a snake.
This whole scene's some kind of shipwreck mistake--
the old CASINO sign neglected to NO,
myself tilting blear-eyed on the swarming deck....

The electric arcade sign's pulled almost down,
its underpowered arrow pointless, dim,
lost, as the sullen lemon horizon
sours to sunset, day's entertainment done.
Our dumb sibling fistfights broke out here once;
perhaps when the wrong kiddie ride was chosen,
and father took sides.  Or was it mother?
Goodbye to scenes of joy and innocence,
dropped cotton candy, crying when you didn't win.
A moody shadow uncoils from its corner

as I duck the "Keep Out" tape's red border
where eternal chargers wait at parade-rest ease--
resigned to dust, resigned to time's disorder:
floor-tiles split by fistful tufts of marram grass,
random bald patches checkering the ponies' gilt 
while popcorn saltiness blows in from the sea,
that roaring gorge impossible to fill....
Such gold and grandeur makes one think
of our insufferable need, unrelieved,
for knight and steed;  noblesse oblige, et al.

It's my "Charlemagne"--and your "Wonder-Horse," say these
plastic plaques beneath the hovering hooves,
Charlemagne's eyes chipped blind and colorless.
Darkness streaks through a broken window
neighborhood urchins had deemed too gladsome,
too rainbow-colored, for their self-despising lives;   
such aimless boredom chucked the breaking brick,
left royal gelding and princess mare unridden,
the bright brass ring unclaimed.  What survives
beneath this smashed stained-glass gone black,
 
past time's accumulation of details, dusts?
I mount the mare amid stable shambles,
peer in a cracked funhouse mirror that reflects
no recoverable image of our old asylum.
Even the rats have decamped, eager to shit
outside, enjoy the ocean, and eat the meat 
that creeps in crabs.  I snare shivering reins
and trace the finery of the bridle's hurtful bit--
the pain in painted flesh that repeats
the colt's breaking, the trainer's coercive love.


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