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Sep 2014
Dancing at my windowsill she calls,
black bottomless eyes and a jagged smile
tug me from sleep with a broken-glass laugh.
Beckoning, this pixie traces softly across my jaw--
fingertips so slightly ***** the skin.
Wordless but for laughter she pulls at me until
charmed I rise to follow where she leads.

Open evening air greets my night-dressed body
with cool wakening breezes and wild sounds.
Stumbling through rocks and over roots
I chase through the wood behind my manic guide.
Toes grip at undergrowth, slip, falling to arrive
on my knees
scraped and panting slightly
in a clearing otherworldly,
aglow with fey light.

A curious night-shine looms--yet Luna's face is hidden.
All attentions focus now on this central luminescence.
From its core jangles sweet, unearthly music
twisting its way into my heart
teasing at the edges of my fragile mind.
Compelled forward I follow sound--
my waker cannot outstrip me as we hurtle on.
Before our eyes the glow casts shadows
forming structure in this mystifying vision
eyes drink in your very first glimpse:
The Carnival.

Light and shadow compose sweeping tents
striped ebony and ivory, seeming strong as each
element yet smooth, sculpted by a master's hands.
Leaping black flames skip along their summits,
performing their nocturnal dance,
illuminating darkness, engulfing light.

Revelers' song soars and forms carouse,
                                                  lively­--but shadows only--to the eyes outside.

The air bears heady perfumes, enticing scents:            
rich, melting creams and toasting sugar
enveloping baked warmth and intoxicating spice.
Last, encircling all this wonder,
cries of mirth and sights to amaze:
an unadorned, unflinching iron fence.

Drunk with sound and smell and scene
wildly spinning through the breeze,
my rousing sprite whirls ahead
bound as if in a trance
her body flinging against
the forbidding blackened gates--
                                        her laughter only extinguished
                                                         as her delicate form dissolves into smoke
                                         holding momentarily the blue of night
                                                         her wasted shape, lost to the barrier.


But Curiosity will blind
eyes far more chaste than mine,
and Allure sings only such songs
that no heart suffers long.

Heedless mortal as I am, I grasp the solid frame
decay crumbles rough against my palms.
Bodies of other spirits caked by time
or the innocent work of oxidation
I do not pause to wonder,
merely vault myself over the fence
and brush from my hands
the black dust of portentous iron.

Inside the gate, vibrant figures flood my vision
ornately costumed in gowns of orange, violet, green
arrayed in shirts and trousers dazzling in spectrum.
These gorgeous apparitions loop around me
peddling beauty, selling fame.
They mesmerize  the eye with stunning wares:
an emerald beast to carry your heavy burdens
sapphire wine to cool your burning tongue
the music of a thousand crystal seas
kept in a bottle to drown your babbling mind.

                "What do they cost?"
                            "Not a dime, not a dime!
                              Just your Now, just a Moment,
                                                         ­                  only Passing Time."

Wandering deeper into the mysteries of night
a band of revelers swing beside and catch me
laughing, bear my bewildered form in arms
and deposit me into a large tent, wherein I find
a man at a canvas the size of a wall
before which are seven stone bowls.
He dashes his brush before the amazed,
and the canvas remains blank
until my companions urge me closer.
Couching myself upon a cushion shapes appear:
Here is a man who will paint your heart's desires
so vivid you can lose all you have
so intimate you fear to move,
lest any see the embers of your fire.

Spin and turn, the Revelers never stay long,
nor draw too near to any one spectacle,
but only joy for new tents, new delights.
No passion was left to grow cold,
no enchantment to lose its power.

Spin
See the girl of flawless grace,
her body painted like the stars--
                                                  the stars the carnival hid
painted like the stars and lithe as the air
ethereal in her arts,
ascending the pole, traversing the rope!
See her twine around stakes and over fire,
dive through hoops and drop
through that needle-loop in your eye.

Spin
Step up to the tent of glistening blue
the fountain that gushes without source.
Marvel at its lucent clarity, it's chilling foam!
Fill your goblet to the brim and drink!
Drink deep, imbibe sweet forgetfulness.
Long for nothing, cleanse your heart.

Spin
Take the carousel with its living beasts to ride.
Make merry with all on board and erase
any care your heart can hold.
Let the furious pace speed on from you
all that would trouble for a thought.

Spin
A honeyed apple pressed against your tongue.
                                         Just a taste! Just a bite!
See the glistening on the skin
made from the dreams of the greatest hearts
unrestrained and unrequited.
Fresh Desire--they're all the more enticing.

The apple glitters golden, its red flesh shines beneath.
Something familiar, a darker red, flecked across the finish.
I bite down and reel--
Something wondrous, but something queer.

Faithful attendants grab me quickly, dance me
into the mouth of a dark velvet tent.
It swallows me as I fall, waiting for the teeth---

        White mist surrounds with a shimmer
         and I have found the ground.
A Voice, deep as the sea enfolds me
gentle, heavy as with sleep--yet all aware.
It invites me closer, sit nearer
rest from the night's fantasies.
Lulled, I make for the figure hooded in brilliant gold.
He leads me to his table.

Heavy, strangely empty I seek sanctuary.
He offers instead a great promise--
power over my weariness, my desires met.
He offers joy unending,
pleasure without regret, without shame.
A haven promised here, mine alone, if only--
--if only I will stay.

But something tastes metallic in those words
promises that cannot be kept.
No tent could hold so much.
This voice, so warm and pleasing,
cannot mask well a lie,
and the gentle hand holds equally a threat.
                                                         ­                                                             run­
                Awake once more I fly from the shroud
bursting blind into the alley.

But back in the tent, left a piece of my heart
and my eye rolls away into a peddler's cup
blistered bits of my soul flake off, scorched
by fire-eaters food. What's left? Who am I?

                             What did it cost?
                               Not a dime, not a dime!
                                          Just a piece of your heart,
                                                                ­  just a piece of your mind.


Retching, the last of my still beating heart
squelches into my waiting hands.
I gag and sob out the gore, disbelieving
this small bit of flesh is all that is left
of all that I have been.

The blood draws the eyes of comrades
now changing from lovely to grotesque.
Ravenous, their teeth elongate
Eyes darken and colors fade
What was vibrant now decayed.
Sweet cream curdles in my mouth.
Rich meats, choice fruits turn sour--
the apple rots.

A hoard unrecognizable
of starved beasts and hideous beings
bears down for my final offering.

But I must know who I am
and what there was beyond this place!


Sprinting barefoot from the mob
clutching the vital treasure to my chest--
though to there it may not return--
I look now for mercy from the black gate.

Elegant porcelain fingers produce monstrous claws.
What once caressed my wondering skin
now sinks in for blood with crushing force.
A hopeless last attempt, a dead man's prayer:
I fling my body on the gate---


                                                       ­                                I am over. I am free--



Iron that once kept me out, now holds them fast within.

Bedclothes torn, all my purchased raiment turned to ash,
I limp, clutching a fragment heart.
Staggering from the Carnival's screams,
its dissonant music now all trick and terror.
Putrid garbage wafts from its walls.
Press onward, never looking back, through the wood.

So long ago--how long?--a little one led me here.
Her death was her own, but could have been
my salvation, a warning dearly paid.
Cheaply received.

My mind swims.
A body with its heart outside cannot last.
There are many things not of the Carnival
that would have my final scrap.

Faltering feet stumble and tripping find
a mere clear and still: a mirror for the moon.
And Luna's face does shine down
all her attendants watching on
as my naked form collapses beside its calm.
I cannot deserve this resting place,
could not discern a trap if one here lay.
All I can and have and am I offer up to Mercy,
and dip what's left of my broken life
into the cleansing pool.
first legitimate narrative piece.
a proof that no one can have an original idea. listening to showbread's 2004 album, *no sir nihilism is not practical.* definitely some inspiration from erin morgenstern's *night circus*, although her book is quite a different and lovelier thing. recently reading *undine* by friedrich de la motte fouqué (translated. i'm not that classy). recently struggling with those things that most often try to ensare a heart.

this is undoubtedly going to be one of those pieces i am never happy with.
Beth Ivy
Written by
Beth Ivy
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   Karina and Tammy Boehm
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