V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Did you ever drive down Ocean Parkway
with the windows open on a summer
night and hear the fireworks even before
your dad parked the car, and once

you rode the horses at steeplechase and twice
went down the slide but did not dare
the parachute drop.  In the dreamscape
the parachute never stops falling.

The rider always travels a little
too fast. Something’s off kilter about
the man with the big teeth smile.
Something that says nothing

is quite right here, a horror movie,
never feeling fully awake.  It’s like that
when he places the coin in her mouth and
she begins to radiate and glow

like a painted wooden saint in one
of those old off the beaten track churches
where the artist didn’t get the perspective
quite right, or maybe the colors, or the proportions.

You’re not sure what, but everything
is slightly askew, and that small misalignment
widens into the crack where fear enters
the room, rolls along the rotting slats

and hides with the rats in the broken eaves.
Remember getting lost at Coney Island.
As if in a dream the camp bus left.  You stayed.
Your brother, bless him, cried until they turned

the bus around, came back and got you,
both late for his birthday party,
your mother frantic.  Now the Cyclone is dead,
the Ferris Wheel dismantled.  No one screams.

No reason for fear, but when the man
places the coin in your mouth,
you turn into the light.  The room
begins to spin.  Everything disappears.


© by Jessica de Koninck


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