On the Tilt-A-Whirl

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

His left boot heel wedged into the rusted steel step
as he rocketed the lever down with a hand chop
and a kick of his right boot to the sorry controls,
his smile just another deep crease on his face.

The children’s whoops and delights marked the time,
with the brassy calliope coughing in sync with him,
as the bright eyes and ruddy cheeks swirled and twirled
in front of the commander of this jaunty, junky world.

The riders’ screams powered the bolt from the steel plates
to the rivets and seams, up the sorry controls, and
through the red-knobbed control stick into his hand,
right along to the forty-two dollars in his dirty pocket.

Then he brought the power lever back, like a jealous lover,
as the grimy barker behind him seduced his old riders,
and he took a long drag on the cigarette still in his mouth,
ready to play god for another two minutes ten seconds, again.



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