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Saturday, April 12, 2014


It was sixty-five years ago
in our small Wisconsin
town, a drinking village
with a fishing problem.
For every need,
just one store, plus
five churches, one diner,
thirty-two taverns, no less,
no more.

Idyllically between wars,
our fathers back from
overseas, our mothers in
the home once more.
Rationing over, yet
victory gardens still in
vogue, but Swanson’s
frozen dinners had
their place for sure.

We had comics, radio too,
Der Bingle songs
from Sammy Cahn and
pin-up girls galore.
Slinky’s, Silly Putty, and
cowboy stories filled our
days, a fat-tire Schwinn
our greatest treasure,
save sun and shore.

Then came the day the
carnival came to town.
We’d know it for weeks,
the posters and such, with
clowns, a Ferris Wheel
and games all around.
We’d practiced with ring-pegs,
darts thrown at balloons,
and bean bags tossed at
boards on the ground.

There were wrestlers, most
famously old Gypsy Joe,
and those were no ladies
tugging tops down.
There were goldfish
in small bowls, a ball toss
to win, midst the noise
of the barkers, the joy
of the clowns.

But the thing I
held on to most fondly,
recalling even now,
were the smells, the
exotic perfumes of the
popcorn, the corn dogs
and, wow, the cotton candy
they spun out of nothing
but air.

It was the best of
a life filled with smiles
more than frowns.
I have dreamed of it
since, but especially now.
In a life too complex
it’s a joy to recall the
day that the carnival came to town.

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