Carnival At Midnight

Sam McMillan

love, must it always be like this:
so brave at evening when only
a rusted cotter pin held you
laughing above your front page
spread in the daily; was it wisdom
to read the upturned mooning faces
flat and legible as maps
and look for knowledge there?
From stall to stall, only angles are offered.
Is it in this one, where the big win
waits you, sucker? Dump Bozo
in the water, knock three bottles
pop a ballon, pluck the lucky numbered
duck, shoot the red star out
of a paper sky. The games we play
are rigged and we know it. We come off
cheap, a lump of stuffed plush in our arms.
From this height nothing is random;
nor static, the situation simply geometric:
neon circles, wired radii, a parabola
travelled by points along such strange abcissa.
Everyone's angle begins from a point
somewhere behind their head. Plotting,
plotted; they head for home.
Now in humming stillness
electric lights give back the night.
Below their huge steel towers
the small men walk
closing down.

 

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