Volume 10 • Number 2 • Fall-Winter 2018-2019

Charles Springer

Jake's Carnival

Jake's got to put down stakes right here right now in middle March because we need some truly ripped amusement so I am putting down a fat deposit so Jake can pitch his tents upon the ice and drifts and plow through with his tractor trailers filled with collapsible Ferris wheel and Hurricane and Loop the Loop, and Teacups for the wives and children, into my whiteout pasture and in just two days, move myself and my pale-tone pals into the maddest states of Masquerade and Mayhem, if you know what I mean because we need salvation, salivation of the saltiest kind, we need to shout out dances and dropkick songs until there's nothing left of us but lint and we are good for done!


Moe is hoeing his row of turnips toward a stubborn clump of quack grass when suddenly the sugar maples catapult a flock of grackles into a waiting breeze while the blue sky whites itself out with clouds and as the sun fades in its effortless dominion, the ground suddenly does something Moe has no name for and whatever it is is taking its good ole time and Moe begins to hop and skip around to surprisingly keep from falling down while the purple mirror ball on its pedestal in the backyard thrusts itself into the carp pond making tiny waves and despite their tiny size, they team toss the mirror ball at Moe's shiny head and he catches it even though he's always been afraid of balls of all kinds and now he sees his face in it and his newly permanent teeth chatter some and if he isn't a sight for sore eyes like his father used to say and when the ground finally stops doing whatever it was doing and the carp pond calms and grackles are back on branches, Moe jiggles the mirror ball a little in his hands only to discover right there in the turnip patch he too can jar a world when he puts his hoe down.


I saw that very tusk, the one pictured in the paper, over at the Dairy Queen two nights ago. I kicked at it a little to see if it was real. Where I'd kicked it turned to powder; my big toe bore a slight bruise. The tusk was rhino-esque, not elephantine. It gave off an odor not unlike ox. On closer examination I think it was the root part of Dr. Hodges' Happy Tooth. He'd reported it missing to the police who reported it in the paper. Dr. Hodges loved Happy Tooth. He took it home everyday from its pedestal in Reception. When taking his two kids to school, it rode in the backseat, buckled in between them and for awhile there, whole town thought he and the Mrs. had adopted. Anyhow, the tusk was carefully removed to the Dairy Queen Museum in middle Wisconsin. After months of restoration, it ranked right up there in visitor attendance with the museum's biggest hole in cheese. What a match they'd become, not unlike Dr. and Mrs. Hodges.

Chariot of Fire

It was a pleasantly cool spring evening and neighbors in the hood were chomping at the bit to be outside on their flagstone patios. Next door, Benny, a retired perpetrator by profession, was not one to pass up an opportunity to stun and so began to spread the flames of evening warmth and crackle with his wheelbarrow. He ranked split logs inside its tub, spritzed some lighter fluid, struck a match on his cheek stubble and poof! In less than no time he'd lit the pits in backyards up and down the block. In no time a "burn out back" had become a pleasantly cool spring evening institution. Expectedly it spread to other streets and towns and provinces where provinces were still governances and just like water and earth and air, fire returned to spectacle with Benny, its self-appointed charioteer. From then on, every time we saw him wheeling down the alley, we raised our tiki-torches and shouted Here, here, a little fire if you please, over here!


Randy rings up the circus in town and tells the young lady on the other end he can disappear at the drop of a hat and do you have any openings? She says to come on over and fill out an application. Randy informs her he has a tough time sometimes holding onto a pencil and she says, no problem, she'll lend him a hand. When he gets there, she tells him she can't see him and to stop fooling around. Randy tells her, put on your glasses and she says, oh yeh, right, silly me. Half an hour goes by and she hands him his costume. This is the fat lady's costume, he says, how's about a nice tie and tails? I'm sorry, she says, those are reserved for the ringmaster. Only the ringmaster gets to wear tie and tails. Well then, what about a crisp top hat and cane? Only if you can take the white rabbit and doves and clothesline of multicolored handkerchiefs with you when you disappear, she says. Now look here, Randy says, I'm not a magician. What I do is real. Oh, that, she says, yes, well, perhaps you'd better keep looking.

Charles Springer has degrees in anthropology and is an award-winning painter. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has published in over sixty journals including The Cincinnati Review, Faultline, Windsor Review, Packingtown Review, Gertrude and Passager. His collection of poems entitled Juice is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing. He writes from Pennsylvania.