Monday, July 6, 2009

carnival, part 2

"popo the lizard, i believe?"
"not me." answers johnny, a knife up his sleeve
"if you insist!" the inspector bows
"the building is surrounded anyhow"

norma the egyptian blows rings of smoke
the inspector is gone, but it's no joke
johnny is white, the first wind of fear
if only hoko the strongman were here!

there is only abdul, the moroccan cobra
"johnny," he whispers, 'it's all over
don't know why they want you and don't care
tell the boys in the hole i played fair"

johnny's eyes are heavy as midnight sand
his knife in a flash appears in his hand
but abdul has already pulled the trigger
and johnny's world grows bigger and bigger

fifi-la-fou takes a pinch of snuff
johnny was soft, he wasn't so tough
he never answered to her love potion
now it's time to cross the ocean

the statue of liberty winks in the fog
at madame alhambra and her little dog
the turkish consul leans on the rail
as fifi and hoko and norma grow pale

norma looks down at the cold gray sea
"these tall buildings terrify me"
hoko says, "in a building like that
a man must need a tall hat"

fifi-la-fou, with her caviareyes
unravels the ambassadors disguise
"this is the boy who can help us," she whispers
she takes from her bag her fingernail clippers

the ambassador's homburg is already raised
his speech is not slurred and his eyes are not glazed
drunk with power, he accosts the trio
"did we meet in algiers, or cairo, or rio..."

fifi replies, as cool as you please
"no. monsieur, we are poor apaches
cast far from our home of wild dance and red wine
to this terrible gotham, so metallic and sibylline"

'your despair is justified, madamoiselle
you have cast yourself up on the shores of hell
these buildings that burn like witches dens
are more human than the breathing citizens

these yankees are truly a nation of slugs
and care for nothing but money and drugs"
fifi blushes like a summer rose
hoko and norma glance down at their toes

when johnny harris fell through the ice
he hollered once, and he hollered twice
folks stood around with gaping jaws
as he struggled desperately in death's claws

adults and children of all ages
stood like pictures in the bible's gray pages
apothecary williams stroked his mustache
and said, "let's not do anything rash"

and paula simpson, whose eyes were life
stared as silent as a bowie knife
flipped through the icy air at him -
the music got louder but the sights grew dim

the voices of the human race
broke like waves through a single face
this is it - this is it - this is it -
but johnny held on and would not quit

then on the outskirts a stranger appeared
with an old brown hat and a yellow beard
walked on the ice like it was desert sand
and reached down with a long red hand

johnny lay gasping at the edge of the pond
among the folks of whom he was not now so fond
the stranger glanced at their dissolving fear
and then proceeded to disappear

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