Glancing Down at the Carnival
Leaving a small dark town, hurrying,
we pass a notice, To the Carnival,
swing homeward over a sweep of bridge,
then glance down at the show itself,
in the valley, in its meadow,
a multi-coloured load of sight and sound.
We see and hear, briefly …
the motley morrice of copious ribbon …
the comedy notes of oompah-oompah …
a cone of helter-skelter red …
maybe a hurdy-gurdy grinding …
We sense … maybe …
the sketching of likenesses …
the telling of fortunes in shadowed tents …
and (as in American country fairs)
a bespectacled girl sitting at a card table,
typing poems for the passing crowds …
Stay, stay …
oompah, oompah …
but the car racing away to the evening.
A coign of housing, market town.
Bethan and John, from Ceredigion,
running from religion, in a way.
Three dogs, as well as the twins,
the house a roar of family’s spark.
Steve and Sheila, older, graver,
more beknown of sadness, but
to each other, to neighbours,
to hungry Africans.
Rick and Marge MacPherson.
The neighbours take the piss out of Rick,
the chest, the vest, the small cheroots.
Once dunted a man’s cheekbone
for squeezing Margie’s thighs.
All of them love the nicknames,
in-jokes, codes and quims,
flirtation’s sport, sex games
in cramped back bedrooms
looking out on a Norman castle,
town houses, alleyways,
nine centuries’ fecundity.
Robert Nisbet was for some years an associate lecturer in creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen. His short stories appear in his collection Downtrain (Parthian, 2004) and in the anthology Story II (Parthian, 2014), his poems in magazines like The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Dream Catcher, The Journal and Prole, and in his collection Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011) which is available here.