Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monster Fun at the Pier

We came a distance for entertainment. Kids
wanting action, dodgem cars, Leather Man above
the ghost train, pythons twisting through skulls,
jaws below the waterline invasive and mean.

We left our parents’ smiles for a grinning clown,
bolted through an arcade spitting silver as we talked.
My brothers made a circular ‘o’ with their mouths
pressed on scanty ladies stripping on cards.

In their sweaty glow, your bothers spun cylinders
of soccer men, pumped mouths as a bolt-action
on B-B guns, kangarooed from high-scoring pinball
machines to rock-n-roll the Continental.

Kids moved through the ghost house with smug
expectation, until someone tickled our cheeks with
phantom breath. We screamed at ghosts’ brains
spilling in doorways, untold Zombies wailing ahead.

Behind us, murder; to our left a bloody rope, to the
right, a seashore spilling bright. We wanted to live and
queued for the next ride. Later, when the carousel
stopping spinning, you bought a rubber ghoul man with

matted hair. It was dark as black ooze of oil cans,
a shrunken knight of death. At the dodgem cars,
its hair furred your brother’s nose, his frenzied karate
chop carrying it further than laughter in the air.

Seated on the pier, watching Houdini swim, your
brother spirited a zombie over your dress. You leapt
out of the seat of your pants, past a box of locks, the
magician’s cuffs and keys, wanting your own escape.

That was childhood, when you played on the surface of
water, when you carried menace as an amusing grin,
when you crept slowly towards your siblings, your
gelatinous ghoul man poised to horror them from sleep.


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Helen Hagemann's first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. 'of Arc & Shadow' is her second full collection published by Sunline Press. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @​​docs/joyous_lake/


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