Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bug Man ran game tables, drop the dot,
knock the pin down, rings over bottle tops.
His Boston accent gave his pitch a bray
you could hear over rides, kids and rock music.
His patter was flawless, slightly condescending,
and totally off the cuff.
He didn't see his hustle as fleecing the public,
precisely, rather as a Darwinian challenge to improve
the species.
He was educated, banal, and without many scruples.
His wife and girl were fed well and happy.
Last I saw of the Bug Man was in St. Louis,
when he dropped me off on a highway on-ramp
pointed vaguely north-east.
He shook my hand, a twenty tucked into my palm.
Gave me the honor of a carny's send-off;
Catch you in the next town.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Slick was a wrangler at one of the larger traveling Carnivals.
Through a season we would do business four, five times.
Through out the south, on every midway, every newly bare hay field,
you asked a carny about a man named Slick, they knew who you meant.
You'd think in a culture that lives by different rules than most
no one would rise to the status of barely being tolerable
let alone respected, Slick was.
He knew what he was doing, he put on no airs,
he knew when to bend and when to say hell no.
The only times I saw Slick riled was when he had to deal with a fool.
Slick asked him , " Who the hell are you to waste both our time like this?"
Slick walked power cords like tight wires,
juggled forty things in one hand and thirty three with the other.
He knew safety codes, local preferences, phone numbers and names.
Roustabouts and game wagons, foodies and barkers, would likely
rob a citizen of hard earned coin, ( everyone knows how this game works),
truckers like me who followed the shows all summer with wire, bulbs and plugs.
Slick was the one man we all knew, and if your name was good with him,
it was good with us.