Camel Jockeys

At the state fair
on the midway
for a quarter you can buy your fortune
rolled up tight on a tiny piece of paper like a straw
an elf or a pixie might sip from.

It’s a good deal, actually
hey, five for a dollar!
            you want? you buy?­
because you also get
seven lucky numbers, which you could use
to play the lottery or bet on the ponies.

So the ground is littered with curled bits of paper
corn dog sticks, paper cones once crowned
with clouds of cotton candy.
            You want? you buy?
A little farther down
            INCENSE STICKS
            10¢/piece! 12/$1!
crystals to hang from your rearview mirror
like enlightenment in reverse
some sort of super bandana you can wet to keep your cool
in all kinds of heat, even desert.

And down near the end
past the dresses made of India cotton
dyed crimson and teal, purple as royal as a fairy tale
just before the cowboy hats and belt buckles
are the Camel Jockeys
rows and rows of little brown turbaned men
on colorful tin camels
that rock along their mechanical track
right to left, right to left
then drop down and loop around
to reappear on the right.

For $5 you get 20 shots with an air gun
            Knock ’em down!
            Knock ’em down!
get a whole row and you could win
a stuffed bear, Scooby Doo
or even SpongeBob
made in China

knock ’em down
knock ’em down

the little brown men
with the towels on their heads

knock ’em down
knock ’em down

win a prize!

This poem appeared in Platypus, Vol. 3, Issue 2.

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