The sun pulled my eyelids open
Turning west for the first time on a long drive
My head wobbled awake with the beams of light
Shaking sleep from the ducts in my eyes.
I witness a haphazard carnival
Parking lot half abandoned
Trucks with rides still holding some of them
Laugh at the six people on the ride
Creaking under the strain of mid-Spring rust.
I recall the last time I tasted an elephant ear.
The doughy crispy flakes shuttled down my sweatshirt
Honest laughing without a care
Months before my first drag
A year before my first drunken face plant
Processed meat and cheese layering into belly
Only to be turned the wrong way over on the rides.
Blazed in red and green and yellow and purple lights
Sirens of top 40 hits and carny laughter
At the putrid green faces we all made.
Together a cadre of newly minted teenagers.
Lost in the parking lot of wonders.
Honest in our screams in the haunted house.
Bored at the yo-yo ride,
Scheming in how we could best the carnival games.
Subsequent loss of money those games.
Try to make the most from ten bucks
Worth of vacuuming and mopping and dish washing.
We were an amoeba of untethered hormones
Lusting after the full figured senior girls
Though quick to avert eyes on the chance they ever looked our way.
We knew we weren’t cool, it was fine.
Still able to make the night ours.
Pool tickets to win soon-to-be-broken trinkets
We shook the ground with our laughter
Bruising our abdomens overfilled with food we would later regret.
Slink off to talk to girls our age
Only to be made fun of upon our prompt returns
Sheepish grins and overly detailed recollections
Of just how hot so-and-so had gotten over the summer.
I recall those days now
Like an old man chewing his teeth pocketed pipe.
Puff fumes on the idea of fun and honest play.
Shadows of memories,
Friends lost to other high schools, college, kids, jail, marriage, the west coast, the east coast, drugs, alcohol, life, death.
I close my eyes
Reach into those memories to hear our laughter one more time.