David Lewis Paget
The Demon Horse On The Carousel - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The trucks came in with the travelling show
To the heart of our western town,
They set their tents in the twilight glow
And circled the wagons round,
While we, the boys of the neighbourhood
Were watching with minds alight,
The girls in the pearl bikini’s
Who would brave the trapeze that night!
The light sprang out of a million bulbs
In yellow and pink and green,
Lighting the booths of the grinning clowns
That you rolled a ball between,
A Carny carolled, ‘A Penny a shy! ’
And leered, with his gold-capped teeth,
Like a hungry shark at the fattest Mark,
But with eyes of a petty thief!
And then the music began to stir
Like a grind from an organ song,
The puffing steam of the calliope
As the crowd began to throng,
While horses bucked and lowered their heads
The Carousel went by,
Riding on into the future as
It left us, high and dry.
I stayed all night by the Carousel,
Watching the people ride,
Off to a magical future where
No-one grew old, or died,
The organ stuttered its music
And the steam puffed by in clouds,
As a big black horse by the inner rail
Stood wrapped in a sheet-like shroud!
Nobody rode that noble horse,
Nobody even tried,
The Barker motioned the folks away
When they strayed to the horse’s side,
But I stood still and hypnotised
To watch as it rose and fell,
Its mane a-stream like the darkest dream,
As dark as the deepest well!
I waited until they called - ‘Last ride,
The last ride for the night! ’
I paid my money and climbed aboard
And went for the horse - ‘Midnight! ’
The Barker stood with his back to me
Was calling the ride aloud,
So I hid beside the great black horse,
Pulled off the enveloping shroud!
The ride was off and away, I leapt
And clung to the horse’s mane,
Its head was tossing so high and proud,
This horse had never been tame!
The stars were high in the midnight sky,
The Moon was up and about,
But then the music began to change,
And the lights of the ride went out.
The wind blew up and the world went by
And the Carousel spun round,
I couldn’t see past the horses head,
We seemed to be far from the ground,
The horse got rid of its wooden pole
Whinnied, while shaking its head,
Then turned to look at the boy on its back,
And the glass in its eyes glowed red.
The music suddenly turned around
Ran backwards around the rig,
Just like a mad asylum sound,
It seemed like a whirligig,
While ‘Midnight’ galloped on through the stars
And bucked and pranced in the air,
And I grew sick with a deadly fear
I’d be thrown off its back out there!
The ride continued for hour on hour,
We travelled down to the core,
I saw some visions of what might be…
I don’t want to see any more!
‘Just take me back to the town, ’ I cried,
‘Just let my nightmare be! ’
The horse looked on me with glowing eyes,
I’d swear that he pitied me!
The lights came on in the Carousel,
The horse, it came to a stop,
I slipped and fell from the horse’s back,
And the Barker helped me up.
I felt so stiff I could barely move,
The man said – ‘and that’s why…
We never let fellows as old as you
Take the Demon Horse for a ride! ’
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