State Fair

It’s one of my guilty pleasures.
I consider myself a stealth fair-goer. It’s all about finding those quiet spaces in the midst of all the hubbub to watch and consider and be reminded of a great number of things.
My offering for Opening Day, written back in 2008:

State Fair

For millennia, this impulse to carnival!
To gather, between seasons,
honor not only the passage of time and heat,
but use it as an excuse, reason, justification
to consume and revel.

To permit–
no, to aspire to
(if only for a little while)
excess and boast: I ate it ALL!
sausages glistening like drag queens flaunting
kraut boas, pickle relish rhinestones, mustard lamé
apples seeking even more beauty from a caramel masque
ice cream coupling shamelessly with fudge as the nuts watch
puffs surrendering their ivory hips to whipped cream
sugar dancing until dizzied pink

To gawk at those who dress as if asking
us to admire their inability to limit
their excesses—Momma, that man’s breasts are bigger than yours!

Here we ogle.
Here we are bodacious among the outrageous.
Here we even listen to country music.

Here it is important to believe
the hawker who preaches as if he’s speaking just to you
and you just know that his cutlery—
offered only at the State Fair with a full set of steak knives at the unbelievably one low price of $20 along with the vegetable spinner and orange juicer—
really will work as well at home on the last of the heirloom tomatoes.

Here we are fair spirited and we twirl
on the double Ferris wheel or the Mad Mouse
strapped to trust and each other.

Rich and poor.
Sound and the fragile.
He who is about to go to war and die.
She who is about to deliver a daughter and fall utterly in love.
They who will not share another evening like this together.

The cry of carnival
fits in a plastic bucket of chocolate chip cookies
slips over us like the glistening scrim of oil left in the Worlds Best French Fries cup
begs us to glide above our real lives and believe,
like the child sitting next to you at the Rabbit Race,
life will be complete
if you win the white teddy bear.

You realize what you want
along with all the other overfed pilgrims
hangs and sways
shining in syllables of orange, pink, blue and green
above you
just out of reach.

Progress Report

My daughter asked to see old photos and books from my youth. We found the tub of scrapbooks and photos not too far down in a pillar of storage boxes tucked in a closet. We looked at old photos of my mother, even more clearly than ever the template from which I was cut. Old photos of myself, revealing the same lineage in my son’s visage. There were yearbooks from school. Programs from 4-H. An odd assortment of ribbons and some trophies. A box of mixed glories and hopes.

What I want to share from it most now, though, is my kindergarten “Progress Report.” My teacher was the finest of kinder: Mrs. Prince. She saw much in me, it seems. Two long columns of “S” for Satisfactory. (“I” denoted Improvement Shown. “N” represented Needs Improvement…a three-note scale that did not shame.)

It’s a found poem, in many ways. I offer it here:

Scholarship Report – 1964

Ready for reading
Shows interest in books
Can use numbers in practical situations
Knows and recognizes number 1-10
Takes part in class discussion
Contributes meaningful information
Is an attentive listener
Has ideas to express
Expresses himself (sic) before the group
Is developing phonetic sense
Can write own name
Attempts to improve his writing
Uses scissors
Expresses himself well
Uses materials carefully
Responds to rhythm
Sings with group
Sings alone
Muscular coordination
Can skip and gallop
Completes work
Works and plays well with others
Obeys willingly
Conduct in class
Meets new situations
Does work neatly
Follows directions
Keeps hands to himself
Speaks clearly
Keeps materials from mouth
Can put on and take off own wraps
Relaxes at rest time.

Finding the Words

I am not a Luddite. Maybe a little techno-resistant. Certainly not an early adapter. I am dazzled by all the options open to writers and others in the blog-sphere. And I will persevere until I have everything integrated…but right now, I am flummoxed. Bear with me. At some near-future time, I will have just one website. It will be elegant and lean. Few bells and whistles. Just a place to record things and post things I hope others will appreciate.