The Fun-House Glass

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hall-of-mirrors
Many times I have found myself standing

in the vast empty lands of the scapes of
long empty hallways of my own dreams
and even there I find myself searching for him
behind the fun-house glass

I have suddenly appeared alone at a carnival
there are no crowds and yet still the sound of them carries on the breeze
cries spin out from the whirl of empty Midway cars
the music comes from every corner there
Heavy metal, rap, & the crazy long drawn spun out dizzying notes
of the calliope

There are the carnies there and they seem to look just above me
they bark out about gleaming bits of plastic and cheap baubles running
their fingertips dazzling over the synthetic fur of leering giant bears
just five dollars, step right up—ladies and gents couldn’t be easier

And they demonstrate willingly
I watch as they throw
wickedly sharp tipped darts at half inflated balloons and toss the rings over skewed
topped milk bottles
they have the sharpened tips and with a sleight of hand the magic rings
it’s so easy for them
their eyes are hungry and lizard like in their emptiness
behind their lips I have been sure there are forked tongues
as they offer up their dazzling snake oils and promises

The sun is always beating down and the soles of my shoes
are always too thin and I can feel the asphalt losing
ground going soft beneath ocean waves of shimmering heat twining up from the pavement
cotton candy winds wispy tendrils and melts into my hand
I don’t want the sticky sweetness but I marvel at the soft spun
sugar that clings to my hands
pink and blue wind together and I am left
with swirls of purple and glittering fairy winks of melted sugar

A sudden breeze pricks up against a bead of sweat against my temple
and for a moment the only thing I can track is the feel of it’s now icy path
running down my neck, across my ribs, gathering in a slow forming damp patch on my low back

And then suddenly I see him there,
he is perfect with floppy dark blond hair and his jeans
worn dangerously to paper thin at the knees
he is alone too
briefly in a waft of a carnies cigarette smoke I see that
for a moment he sees me in the outline shadows that form around me
another long blast as the man at the tilt a whirl too notices me
eyes coolly picking out my shape a knowing smirk upon his lips
he slowly pulls the cigarette from his lips and with an astonishingly
delicate but powerful flick he sends it flying away from between his finger tips
the embers scatter and he smiles once more
I wave the smoke that clings to me away and once again
I stand alone and he forgets that I ever was

But, he has not forgotten me
the small formed boy that I always come to see,
the beautiful child I always hope to meet
deep in the familiar dregs of my dreams
I watch him tiptoe away in scuffed up Converse shoes
he seems almost saddened, but, not really
it’s as if he too is familiar with this place and
that this is the way he too expects it to be
his lips twitch up into a longing little grin
I am not sure if it is aimed at me
he moves along and I watch as he disappears behind the fun-house glass

And I too begin to move inevitably as I always and forever do
behind him and make my way into the over bright
cracked hot merriment and false high pitched shrieks of laughter
I too move into the walls of the fun-house and the hall of mirrors

In the glaring light of the wall of mirrors I see a thousand
prisms and brightly colored kaleidoscope visions of him
each one different each one filled with its own slightly skewed and different visions
each one is utterly beautiful
the one he stares at is the smoothest glass
he views himself perfectly whole his lips move
and in that mirror his words are perfectly formed and
he stands there in awe of himself watching the play of
his face and he looks wistfully as his words trail off

I cannot hear his voice over the music and barking of the carnival
and the sudden shriek of empty cars though I lean in hard
I strain my ears and I pick up the end of a syllable
just the tale of one sweet end of a word that I can never quite pick out
I am left haunted all over again and again by the idea that it would have been the most
beautiful thing I had ever heard if only I had been faster and caught up to him
and he moves on again

I reach for him I cry for him to wait
my voice is loud enough I fear the next sound will be the
shattering of glass but instead my voice is lost and empty and hollow and there is no answer back
my finger crashes cruelly against, not him, but the smoothness of glass
I lean my forehead against the pane and rest in the coolness
I want to cry but my tears have long since dried out, they have been overused
and now there are none left to me just a burning in my eyes and
the feeling of sawdust and desert sand caught in my throat

I am so empty and I am accustomed to this feeling of loss
it doesn’t make it hurt any less I am mad at myself for a long- long time
why, why, can I never catch him?
it is only then that I always begin to notice myself
even though I don’t want to look anymore, I always do

There are a thousand wavering visions of versions of me too
some are yellowed and dulled mere wisps of a phantom me
some are tall and thin and ethereally wavering as if I am barely tethered there wispy gossamer shadows of me
in one I have been callously shrunken down until I’ve melted and smeared like waxed crayon nearly completely into the floor
in one there is an old version of me the careless girl of 17 stares back strong legs laughing eyes
lazy and insolent I blink back
in one there is twisted hole where the black back of the mirror is showing and from that center
shoot a thousand spidery cracks streaking out and away from the center of me
on the black carved in there my eyes pick out a long forgotten artists cry of FTW inside a shattered heart
in none of them am I who I thought I would be
and for a moment all I can see
is the jagged heart and the FTW scrawled across it
somehow it is meant only for me

Suddenly I am given a last glimpse of the beautiful wraith boy
I strain hard and pull my head away from the glass that has cooled and cushioned me
even in the callousness of the cold relentless reflections of me
somehow I’ve come to be comforted by it every time I return
it is the one thing in my dream that I can depend on
the only moment I am given anything to lean my weariness against
with everything I have I silently scream I love you
carefully forming each word in my mind
they are perfect there crisp and unblemished hard and unmistakable like diamond chips bouncing off marble floors
and yet I listen as they come out garbled and chewed up clipped and curled like licking flames on edges of paper
they are spilling from my lips they are crumpled and unrecognizable
they have escaped me anyway, they are not at all what I meant to say
they are sent forcefully away from me mocking me and left echoing limply
bouncing like broken winged birds flamboyantly feathered in their utter wrongness
for a moment they lodge trapped against themselves in parallel worlds
before skittering down wings fluttering dully, uselessly, my words rain down off of nothing but the cold glass

And always his back moves away from me in the hall of a million mirrors
his tiptoes moving restlessly hands caught in an endless dance as away he always goes
I’m not sure if he’ll ever see or know I called out
because it was just a backward glance he spared me and then he is gone all over again
away from my sight

And I am alone once again at the carnival
forever left searching for Nicholas
who is trapped somewhere behind–
always just beyond my sight
somewhere— behind the
fun-house glass

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