Bewildering Stories

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The Chair

(Death in a Carousel)

by Deborah Cimo

Last night the pie-man, sky-man, high-
man executioner came waltzing at my heels.
Gray-black houndstooth mask over his eyes, ears, scalp–
bareheaded like an enormous bulb
of anonymity.

From behind me he taunts,
“Step this way,” smacking his lips,
menacing, he thinks, he blinks, a trepid old man stare.
Been at this too long.

I, facing an uncolored window beyond where ribbons of rain
liquidate the cold, dark night that gives no wanderer rest,
I couldn’t care less
who comes to turn out the lights.
(Like it matters the who of the final hour.)

I see these old-man-hands twist the knobs and buckle
the straps. Licking those goddamn lips like he’s tasting
mellow wine, straight from the vine, old in time and
ever so sweet.

Hard, cold stares, the pie-man braces his wares against
the candle-burned night.

“All who wander are not lost,” rings in my head
like the ticking of the clown-eyed clock with clear-rimmed eyes
and an old shadow.
For all I know, he is. (Lost, tossed out, embossed on
that naked, hooded head.)

Tan throne, leather, bubbled in places where
the volt missed its mark, shuffled
into a wood-carved case built in the wall, cut out
for your head;
can even click the slatted door, the slick door, trick door
shut for privacy (suffocation)–
just for these moments, last moments.

Monumental in a decked-out cathedral.
(If you’re not careful you can mistake it
for a confessional — a confessional with a cut-out head.)

Speaking of confessions...

I thought I could write you a letter, one of those
“We-hardly-got-started-before-it-ended” type things.
Going great till I got to,
“I left so many things undone (you)”
and I ran out of words, out of juice.

So the pie man closed the door (click)
the slatted door, the slick door, trick door
(for privacy, you know),
dropped the curtain so you can’t see the play,
— curious — more surreal that way.

All the while churns that organ grinding groan
of the carousel song.
And the only thing I left for you,
is a thing I’ve never done.

Copyright © 2005 by Deborah Cimo

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