Poem — May 2021- “Carnival Sal”

Carnival Sal has a set of spare tickets

He knows the guy who prints them each day

It’s only the colour that makes any given one legitimate

The system is not sophisticated

He’ll spot you a set of three


Carnival Sal keeps a rag over one shoulder

A washed one

He might use it here or there, wherever he’s called to

they whistle when they need him,

Two short bursts means ‘Sal get over here’


A clean rage used to be in him

Used to wake him up while he slept

Back in the city

He fought against everything

He didn’t want to get nothing done

Now he’s useful

Talks too loud

Pushes people the way he needs them to go with a hand on the back

Goes about his chores

Wants for nothing


Carnival Sal

sees the big gates light up at night,

when everything is shut down but the perimeter

Makes his rounds with his unloaded pistol

Talks to the sleeping animals

And the mimes playing blackjack by the pancake truck


Used to have all kinds of wants and needs

Thoughts about the government

And then one day

Saw a woman outside his building

Walking with her child,

Her shoes, purse, and glasses

Her hand gripping the kid’s shoulder so tight

The little boy with eyes full of apprehension

At what he’d been told the world and the city would do to him

The woman tense and smart and agile

And Sal cracked

Never came back.