Last Day of Magic


For example, when you take a funhouse

seriously, you’ll want mirrors to keep

the world inside the glass from falling out

like a labryinth into the future or the past

for all to see—the ceiling, the floor, the plywood

with splinters spliced into planks

that join the festival

moon with its halo of haze—


you’ll eventually want to stroll through

the mirrors and meet the clowns

unicycling along sawdust paths and juggling

seltzer bottles and bowling pins.

You’ll ask the coulrophobes, why not

dream of the funhouse

falling into a sideshow and a ring toss

and the never-ending carousel.


You’ll want to walk over to Water Street.

The Rotary Club will sell you a funnel cake.

Go ahead, try a mallet

at the Whac-A-Mole and walk

with the living folk into the haunted house

we keep filling up

even if we are a small town.


You’ll want to wait until 9 o’clock,

when fireworks blush the air over the canal works—

roman candles and parachutes, bengal lights and aerial shells

will rocket from the barge

sitting north of the locks.

Pretty soon the thought will strike you

halfway convinced that H.P. Lovecraft had lived here,

you’ll bet five bucks

he loved the cars idling under the bridge,

the winters when slush finally thawed

and earth gushed green and the canal

flowed and the young girls

with their melancholy eyes, opaque as the boredom

they wear like a prom dress,


filled the sidewalks

with bicycles and Segways. You’ll want to take

the path with the tourists

stepping back from skateboarders

crossing George Bailey Bridge,

where exactly 1,000 yellow ducks drop

into the algae-mottled canal

and you’ll want to gather with the rest of us

to cheer for the ducks racing

in what could be the world’s

slowest Derby or Preakness,

and you’ll remember it for a long time.


Myth and Fairytale


A friend once told me his wife

passed away without a mark— as if sleeping;

her body perfect, tranquil and slumped

as if telling a story

quietly to herself inside.


Before his wife died,

we already had ourselves

to see by candlelight in cold places,

where we were close enough

we often spoke.


I thought about that man

in the February of this year,

and his wife. Who’s to say I never

go back to the old stories

I thought I’d left behind.


The man whose wife died and I

spoke while driving

on an icy road going to church.

We found ourselves young enough once

to take in the comfort

of the snowy countryside.


Ours was a story that began

once upon a time. “Let’s go,” he said,

“let’s leave this cold February

and live our best life—

and he hung up the phone—


Bob Haynes

Bob Haynes lives in Seneca Falls, New York. His poems have appeared in North American Review, Nimrod, New Letters, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, Bellingham Review, Lake Effect, Poet Lore, Cimarron Review, Natural Bridge, Louisville Review, and Louisiana Literature, as well as featured on the Verse Daily website. Poems have also been reprinted in anthologies Cabin Fever (Word Words) and Kansas City Out Loud (BkMk Press), and in the poetry textbook Important Words (Boynton/Cook Heinemann). His latest book, The Grand Unified Theory (Kansas City: Paladin Contemporaries). He currently teaches online writing and visual rhetoric, and poetry workshops at Arizona State University.

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