Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why God Made County Fairs

Milky night skies over the city hall lawn
Where Homer and Hannah would sit for hours
Observing passersby and each other
And the rules that are set by moms and dads.
Especially dads, for the boy could see
The man’s face in every ride attendant
As Homer and Hannah would sit for hours.

Lines snaking around corners of each booth,
Dart throw and milk bottle, ball in basket,
The marks shelling out cold, gullible cash
For their chance to prove every game a scam.
But Homer and Hannah would sit for hours
Touching hands, star-gazing, saving money .

Tunes like Stars and Stripes Forever play on
Seemingly forever from a distance;
With echoes of “sorry pal, try again”
Or, “better luck next time”, or “beat it kid”!
Charles Ives himself couldn’t have done better.
Such dissonance makes for a pleasant noise
While Homer and Hannah would sit for hours.

Twilight comes, arrayed in soft skin and gray.
Now the entertainment is nomadic,
Encircled by a crowd of eateries,
Anti-nostalgic, fast food for fast times.
You can still find Homer and Hannah there,
Sitting for hours, oblivious to change,
Monuments of love from a bygone era.

This poem is in response to the Read Write Poem prompt #98.


  1. The first line really caught me, and I love the imagery you used. Is there any significance to the names Homer and Hannah that I've missed?

  2. Not really. I tried some other names, but they didn't roll off the tongue very well. These names might also be suitable for the setting of this poem.

  3. Homer and Hannah remind me of the Bakersfieldien Every Woman, Every Man who fork over way too much money every year at our local Kern County fair...

    Completely enjoyed the dip into memory, the use of the senses worked very well. I could hear the carnies and their "better luck next times" and "beat it kid!"... people spending their gullible cash....

    (Blogspot still abhors my comments - know this is Julie Jordan Scott commenting, found your poem on ReadWritePoem.Org)

  4. You've brought me right to the fair with this poem! :) I especially like how you've maintained a sense of unity by the repetition of the Homer and Hannah line, and through this line, you've added a personal element to your poem. Very well done and nicely specific.

  5. I like how you interspersed Homer and Hannah throughout and it ended with them. Good job!

  6. Yes, I agree -- the refrain/repetend reinforces the staying, the sitting for hours. County fairs are made to hold time still, to hold love in place.

  7. Nice blend of nostalgia and reality. I like the way you bring restraint rather than abandon into the poem. Nice feel over all. And some of the lines are absolute killers:

    The marks shelling out cold, gullible cash
    Anti-nostalgic, fast food for fast times.

  8. Hi Jerry,

    Homer and Hannah remain constant through all the change. I loved the line "Observing passersby and each other/And the rules that are set by moms and dads." Definitely takes us back to a different age!

  9. I love the way the stanzas anchor themselves in Homer and Hannah's sitting, their naive, true American natures even as the carnival/fair acts as a terrific allegory for all the deception, dissembling, and quick pleasures that have acted as "modernizing" and corrupting forces.

  10. There are people who never leave their front porch. They get their kicks from watching the rest of us experience the carnivals of life. They remain grounded and not enticed by the "fast times". The stability/ instability was well crafted. I enjoyed your poem very much, Jerry. Thank you for sharing.

  11. I love the rubes shelling out their money to prove the games are fixed.

  12. I'm delighted by the Ives reference - it was unexpected and perfect.

  13. Twilight comes, arrayed in soft skin and gray.

    This is such a beautiful image - it will stay in my head for a while.

  14. jerry really enjoy the assonance of Homer and Hannah throughout. the stoic and hopeful scene of both embracing as the world spins by in front of them, filled with shams and cons is refreshing, echoing the sentiment of "us against the world". thought your language throughout was effective, a fine pen here. -lawrence

    the presence of another is all we need if the population were to vanish, love em or hate em.

  15. nicely done....took me back some..."beat it kid"....I thought that he said BEAT 50 years later I became that BEAT kid POET..thanks for sharing this