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At the Johnson County Fair
The sweet sins of Summer beckon from within the bubbling oil,
burnt by grease as young arms are by sun.
I am at once a funnel cake, and want one.
Neon-painted curious eyes, slit-sized once more
by festering scent of cattle
prized for round and well-pruned haunches.
Many sunburned noses, crinkled,
turn against the fetid festival taking place
behind the flimsy clapboard barriers;
Damn few farmhands’ efforts met by ribbons
satinized and navy-blue.
Drawn to noise, all young male eyes have turned to see
As farm machines struggle to break free of their designs
And lift themselves above a manmade brine of mud.
Airy shrouds of purple gray above, betray their useless tries.
A claw machine, a wad of cotton sugar,
darkened dirt relit by neon tubes,
the thousand tiny bulbs pressed close
against the whitewashed boards…
Now the wheel goes round again,
the twenty rusty buckets sway
from end-from-end, the
telltale sign of nervous children made a fidgeting wreck
by too much life discerned too fast in much too short a time.
At end, exhaustion while we wait our turn to exit gravel lots, is
sweet enough to put a wad of sugar spun,
to shame amid the fading bulbs of night,
drifting down into the inky road behind.