Tuesday, September 22, 2015



Watching the blue darkness,
mer-thing in a tidepool of dreams,
the sparkling shrill moon is a huckster
passing the hat, glued  with
the glitter of carnival lights,
spotlighting the main attraction
down a littered midway of stars.
Slithering through the tents on my scales
I'd be the rube from downstate, more
freakish than any of the acts
in my silver tail and cotton candy mind, 
snaking painfully over the gravel
from stall to stall still
looking for you,
not sure just what you do these days:
barker blindfolding the crowd with words,
sad-eyed urchin picking their pockets,
carny lopsidedly leering, milking the bottle toss
or the bored skull-sleeved punk
at the sticky-railed tilt-a-whirl
who'll take my dollar
one more time.
Better to stay where I was born
in the dance-dream of turquoise foam,
going home with a breaching dawn,
where sky pours the world
plain, clear water
for the jug of living.

~April 2013 

re-posted for    real toads

Images: Carnival at Acireale, by Jeanne boleyn, public domain via wikimedia commons
The Little Mermaid Dissolves into Foam, by Edmond Dulac, fair use via wikiart.org


  1. I really love the POV, the mermaid, somewhat out of place at the Carny, but searching. Your description evokes the atmosphere of the carnival very well.

  2. To me this really paints darkness on the brilliance of the carnival, like fangs on clowns you serve a cold dish of loneliness in the midst of a crowd. The watered end could be Ophelia-dark too, but I feel there is hope in that jug of living. Wonderful write.

  3. I know how she feels and that last stanza sums up the cure.

  4. the last three lines are amazing.also the "dance-dream of the turquoise foam".

  5. Wow.. the wordplay is such that I'm sure I'll come back several times to savour it!

  6. It reminded me a bit of the scene from the Last Unicorn when the Unicorn sees all the sham bits of Mommy Fortuna's carnival and knows she and the harpy are the Realest things there. I like the barely restrained anger expressed through scorn here.

  7. I am a vegetarian and have been for a very long time, so, sometime when I hear the word carney and read it here, I hear the echo of carnivorous--and think of some carnivorous world as opposed to this world of dream and water and fish scale--ha. This is sort of a turn on the little mermaid--(I'm thinking Hans Christian Anderson more than Disney) --and I'm glad she is turning around--and going back to a world of dreams and water which seems so much fresher than the bright lights and hucksterism-- it also reminds me a bit of an artist trying to make their way in the world--perhaps even just a world of commerce but even just a world where words do not mean what they say. Anyway, the imagery is great and the expression of that unfair fair world is really well done. Ugh. The lover who took the other dollars--eeuw--I certainly feel a repulsion! All those compound words are terrific by the way. (I hate to say I have a long-held dislike of carnivals having had a freakish accident in one long ago--) k.

  8. There is much more peace there by the ocean, everything seems much freer when it is not dressed up in lights, or needing to be sold. The circus/fair never sticks around. Its always gone at the end of its run or season. Til the next time it comes around. A whole lot more like the last time. We just forget, and fall for it again.

  9. Love your beautiful language and haunting story.

  10. The pain conveyed by the second stanza is so deep. Searching while hurting, and finding not what one wants and needs does something awful to the chest...

    Whimsically scary.

  11. A mermaid dry docked in a carnival...how creative. Your poem brings up memories when I once had a crush on a boy whose family owned a carnival. I was a bit like your second verse. I felt more freakish than the freaks on the midway. My heart was always playing second fiddle to another's girl's smile. Beautiful writing.

  12. Very atmospheric. I love "the jug of living"!

  13. Just want you to know my ill self was here, but as yet am unable to be coherent. I will come back when I feel better, dear Witch.

  14. A call there to that gliitery casbah, from "tidepool of dreams" into the fantasias of old night, old merriments, one more for the gipper before the gibbet, a little of the old ultraviolence, the thrill of it all ... Love the sense of a Lamia's return to that youth, feasting just a bit for the eyes without much real heart for it any more. Not really, not when there's a home where "the sky pours the world / plain, clear water / for the jug of living." Still, for a night for a poem, it glitters.

  15. Okay whoa! This is awesome; glad i waited until I felt better to come back. The description of the rube is priceless, and the contrast between the gaudy, tawdry, falseness of the carny and the "plain clear water" is striking.

  16. I felt a distinct level of discomfort as I read this one, Hedge. You master meaning and emotion.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats