Today's poem is by Mark Wagenaar

Carnival Nocturne

Peanut shells crackle beneath your pink slippers
as you pace. The players begin routines of a different sort
long after the show is over, long after the spectators
return home, their caricatures slipping from their grasp
as they unlock the front door. Teeny the strongman
is calling the torn names in the phone book
he ripped in half, as Vasserot listens outside, smoking
a cigarette with his left foot, his arms a phantom
presence he feels each time he reaches for another can
of peaches. Karlov the Great has gone to bed
regretting his dinner, three light bulbs & a seven foot
feathered boa, while in the next room Madame Sossman
is about to win a red nose & a pair of floppy shoes,
unless Noodles can beat three Hangmans.
Monsieur LeBeau stands in the big tent, still listening
to the cheers of the departed crowd. His daughter
won't return his phone calls, but tomorrow
will bring a new town, with a different name & story,
where anything is possible, & tonight the stars' white flames
burn on their blue wicks—she's out there, somewhere,
the one you left behind on the Serengeti, in the night
that paces in a circle with its one black shoe, beneath wires
no one will ever see, the sickle moons ivory
as beautiful as your tusks once were.

Copyright © 2012 Mark Wagenaar All rights reserved
from Voodoo Inverso
University of Wisconsin Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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