John Grey

A Boy at the Carnival

In the thick of carnival,
a boy curses his eyes for their inability
to see everything at once.

Large strange masks bob on thin necks.
Strange painted faces plant themselves
inches from his own.
His awe shudders.
But his laughter loses itself
like a drunk’s bladder.

A man in a dress
and waving a glittery pocket book
accompanies a woman in her father’s gray suit.
An old gypsy lady’s selling love potions.
The boy wonders why she doesn’t
glug them down her own throat.

Food is everywhere
from sizzling sausages to candy apples
as red as the beauty queen’s lipstick.
A boy often cursed
for leaving half his dinner on his plate
suddenly feels as if
he could eat his way through the entire two acres.

Music pummels from all sides.
Society ladies dance with beggars.
Drunken stumbles steer well clear
of apologies.
Revelers pour from everywhere,
blow whistles and trumpets.
A boy’s nursery rhymes
crack under the blowzy strain.

Fueled by exotic smell, cacophonous sound,
bewildered sight and random, inexplicable touch.
a boy crashes through adolescence,
adulthood, and out the other side as a boy again.

He begs the carnival to never end,
not knowing that’s already the fate
of all that’s set in motion.


John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.

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