by Bob Kokan
carnival again in this dead-horse town. A dinky-assed Ferris wheel no higher
than a henhouse creaks and groans like every bolt is bent, with one-arm Willie
back again, drunk, at the control.
Tilt-a-Whirl, a paint-chipped and rusting dinosaur, is surrounded by
sick-yellow lights, some that work, others just random flashing, off and on.
The canopied cars smell of emptied stomachs and sour beer, and the real
excitement is hoping that it all holds together long enough to get off.
in the beer tent, the Lions Club is drinking up the profits, and corpulent cops
with big bellies and rusty guns keep watch for under-agers, while the grocery
store is being robbed.
little kids, their lips stained Snow-cone cherry-red, chase each other,
sugar-high on too much cotton candy, and the freedom of no school, and
the games yard, they have cheesy can’t-win ring toss, darts with dull points,
concrete milk bottles that won’t tip in a tornado; and all the lousy prizes are
recognizable leftovers from last year.
the dunk tank, the town’s favorite floozy, dressed in her finest halter top,
short shorts, and Marlboro cap, taunts the boys, her nipples hard as marbles.
the food pavilion, salmonella stew brews thick, and menacingly dark. People
chew on butter-drenched ears of corn, ketchup their corndogs, and have used
napkins stuck to their shoes.
the parking lot is where the fun really is. First beers in the dizzy darkness
result in ugly teenage groping and panties on the car’s antennae, banners flown
to risen kings and fallen virtues.
comes the dumpy parade in Hicksville: fire engines and farm implements.
Boy scouts will march,
picking their noses in perfect unison;
hillbillies on wagons will throw stale candy to scrawny children with bad teeth,
and vagrant dogs with mangy coats will snarl and fight for lost pieces.
There’ll be fake
Indians on horseback; cowboys wearing extra-large hats and dinner platter belt
buckles; the local VFW marching apoplectic, pot-bellied and hung over, will
sweat through their too-tight uniforms. And some dumb-dick politician perched
on the back of a convertible Cadillac always makes me think of Dallas schoolbook
depositories and high-powered rifles.
Next comes the high
school band of goobers, oompahing out of tune; all previous pie-eating champions;
nerds with buck teeth, taped-up glasses, and hand-me-down uniforms.
Lastly, the hometown
beauty queen, scrubbed Osmond-clean, will ride by, smiling and waving at the
inbreds. Don’t question the scrapes on her knees, or why she’s cross-eyed from
trying to focus on things that are a little too close.
All this horrible hoopla
that passes for entertainment is really
just an excuse for the rednecks to get drunk and stupid in public, like they’ve
ever needed an excuse, before.
it’s all passed by, you’ll find yourself standing, red-faced, like a schmuck,
with all the other red-faced schmucks looking idiotic in shorts, socks and
sandals, the street smelling of horse shit.
Robert Kokan has had poetry accepted by Windy Hill
Review and the upcoming 42-word