A carnie cracks a crooked
by Francis Santaquilani
And carnal smile
At the long-legged girls as they wait in line to
Hand him their tickets to ride
He's not like a daddy, brother or boyfriend,
He's something else. His bare arms are snakes.
His smile holds up in the heat, pierces
The whirl and blur and sticks to their souls
Like chewing gum to their sandaled feet.
He flips his cigarette into the wet grass
Making another town his ashtray.
Someone tosses the last of an elephant ear
And corn dog into the brown and green pond in
The center of this place.
Fat, gray fish pounce on the scraps and
Tumble over one another with the sun on
Their backs. Powdered sugar and cotton candy
Mingle with algae on the concrete banks.
The bored, unloved and strange
Roam side by side, ride
Ride after ride. The sun drives them
Into the shade. Bees chase them back into