January 18, 2021

Pic & Poem of the Week: July 17, 2016

Photo by David Cornwell

Photo by David Cornwell

(Click on picture for larger image)

• • •

At the Johnson County Fair

The sweet sins of Summer beckon from within the bubbling oil,
burnt by grease as young arms are by sun.
I am at once a funnel cake, and want one.

Neon-painted curious eyes, slit-sized once more
by festering scent of cattle
prized for round and well-pruned haunches.
Many sunburned noses, crinkled,
turn against the fetid festival taking place
behind the flimsy clapboard barriers;
Damn few farmhands’ efforts met by ribbons
satinized and navy-blue.

Drawn to noise, all young male eyes have turned to see
As farm machines struggle to break free of their designs
And lift themselves above a manmade brine of mud.
Airy shrouds of purple gray above, betray their useless tries.

A claw machine, a wad of cotton sugar,
darkened dirt relit by neon tubes,
the thousand tiny bulbs pressed close
against the whitewashed boards…
Now the wheel goes round again,
the twenty rusty buckets sway
from end-from-end, the
telltale sign of nervous children made a fidgeting wreck
by too much life discerned too fast in much too short a time.

At end, exhaustion while we wait our turn to exit gravel lots, is
sweet enough to put a wad of sugar spun,
to shame amid the fading bulbs of night,
drifting down into the inky road behind.


  1. A clear case of poetic mind and extensive vocabulary encountering sensory overload….

  2. Danielle says

    This makes me think of fry bread. Which is really not the same. It’s more like our daily bread, fried.

    But still. Here’s a good scene from the writing of Sherman Alexie:


  3. “festering scent of cattle”?
    “fetid festival”?

    I’m going to make a wild guess here that this poet is a city girl, tho possibly living in the suburbs. Perhaps she could dedicate herself to becoming chairperson of the county fair board and see to it that all livestock are required to wear diapers. Make that odor-control diapers. If she is successful at that, perhaps she could come up here and do something about these awful Amish who have no consideration for anyone else and allow their animals to defecate right on the road where anyone can see. It not only has the potential to lower our property values, but think of the germs. Perhaps I misinterpret. That crinkled nose could be from the grease those funnel cakes are fried in. But the image I’ll take away is of half a dozen hundred-thousand-dollar combines in a mud run. I’d pay to see that. Fun, fun, fun at the county fair!

  4. Clever

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