On the Tilt-A-Whirl, Revisited

He leaned against the rusted old orange tilt-a-whirl,
plucking tickets from tikes leaping like yapping dogs,
his cig’ offering a glimpse of the future fight
between gravity, hot pink skin, and salty sweat.

His left boot heel wedged into the rusted steel step
as he hunched his shoulders and girded all his strength,
thrusting the controller down with happy menace,
his smile just another deep crease on his face.

The children’s gay whoops and high delights marked the time,
as the brassy calliope trumpeted magic,
the bright eyes and ruddy cheeks swirled and twirled
for the commander of this jaunty, junky world.

The riders’ screams threw a bolt up from the steel plates,
into the ramshackle, shaking control panel,
through his greedy clutch, past his heart pulsing,
down to the crumpled nine dollars in his pocket.

He lifted the controller, like a jealous lover;
the barker behind him seduced his old riders;
he took a long drag on his stumpy cigarette,
ready to play god again for new believers.

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