Saturday, November 7, 2015

James Babbs- Three Poems

Carnivals of My Youth

this morning
I miss the carnivals
the carnivals of my youth
the carnivals of summer
of June and July
I’d almost forgotten
until today
when they flooded my mind
and the flashing lights
alive with brilliant colors
the lights on every ride
spinning across the sky
and I heard music
mingling with the noise
the madness of engines
and the grinding of gears
and children laughing
with squeals of delight
and the lingering odors
of deep fried batter
lemonade shake-ups
and elephant ears
all the tents lined up in a row
spending my money
playing the ring toss game
trying to win the biggest prize
my first kiss
at the top of the ferris wheel
suspended in the air
underneath the stars

Eye of the Beholder

I’m not sure why
but she told me
she’d been a beauty queen
even took first place in
a couple of contests
but it was a long time ago
I bought her a drink
and told her it was okay
it happens to all of us
while we were drinking
I watched her reflection
in the mirror behind the bar
I was certain I could still see
traces of the beauty queen
she looked pretty good to me
I told her some jokes
and liked the way she laughed
she told me
her husband had passed away
more than two years ago
he was a good man
she said
yeah I told her
I hear they’re hard to find
I told her
I’d never been married
but I’d been in love
more than a couple of times
we drank another round
and shared a few more laughs
at a certain point in the evening
I reached out my hand
and brushed the hair from her eyes
she smiled at me and
leaned her body into mine
as we held on to the night
we knew it couldn’t last

My Brother Smoked Merits

I remember getting cigarettes
for my brother from the diner
across the alley from our house
I must’ve been ten or eleven
maybe a little bit older than that
and I had to cross the back yard
so I always ran as fast
as I could through the dark
I thought the trees were monsters
and their limbs were tentacles
that kept stretching out
trying to touch me
I was on a long journey
and wasn’t sure
if I’d make it home again
and my brother always gave me enough money
for me to get myself a candy bar
or a bag of potato chips and
a can of soda pop
when I returned
I gave him back the change
and handed him the cigarettes
he smoked Merits
they had yellow and brown stripes
running at an angle
on the front of the pack
and I always liked the smell
when my brother first opened them
tearing away the cellophane
bringing a fresh one to his lips

James Babbs continues to live and write from the same small Illinois town where he grew up.  He has published hundreds of poems over the past thirty years and, recently, a few short stories.  James is the author of Disturbing The Light(2013) & The Weight of Invisible Things(2013).


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