Franchise Instructions for the Fairground Sideshow
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.