Franchise Instructions for the Fairground Sideshow

                                                  after S.A.


Get ducks, for yellow. Also a blue-walled tank.

A circle’s best. Number each duck, marked red

and permanent. Provide hoops, large enough

to ring said birds. Prizes! If you’ve claxon,

you’re ready for the Roll Up, Roll Up; see

who’ll pit their fistful of coin against these

sitting ducks. What do you mean, flown away?

Have you bound their wings, or else clipped? I see

your sense of justice hinders your sideshow

business credentials. I doubt your gamble, sir.

Your ducks’ freedom must be paddle & foxless:

your hapless customers mustn’t know these ducks

are the real thing, like to shy from what’s thrown—

a trope you’ll, for one, do well to linger on.




An Iceland of the Morning


enters through the plant-bottled water

in my kitchen. Twenty-twenty vision

and vistas: in one direction


the same view for nautical miles,

the way (I’m told) it’s meant to.

Any moment the deliveries will begin:


a fjord shipped in numbered parcels,

a passel of longhair shortleg horses.

My room steeped in the ammonia


of rotten shark. Some weeks I’ll leave

lamps lighted and when the first bulb

bursts I’ll let the whole place float


in darkness. The gas burners serving

as a coal-stoked fireplace the only visual.

I’ll pass time hoping for a revolution


of sun and earth, making phone calls

to a woman who told me, stage whisper

and scented in Merlot, how she woke


late once into a hot air balloon

of the afternoon: red and orange pool

of fabric swelling with trapped air,


her ascension into overhead sights,

the vapor trails of transatlantic jets.

How to steer, when to jettison sandbags.


This is a problem we’re faced with

the instruction manual won’t help with.

Being along for the ride. Being absent.