Grift Pocket Memoir
from Nightmare Alley

Michael Brockley 

As you approach the showman’s trailer, a ferris wheel looms over the carny stalls like a B-movie behemasaur slavering over metropolitan prey. The man who greets you from behind a disarrayed desk once kidnapped a mute woman from a camp of rejected wives. But the showman does not know you turned the hanged-man card upside down. Nor that you once fleeced a judge and trusted a woman who wore scarlet lipstick like a bludgeon. A matricidal fetus stares at you from its thalidomide jar among the carny’s collection of pinhead skulls and hinterland heirlooms. The showman senses the dead fathers in your wonderland eyes. And suspects you were born to be the shadow that lingers in midway spook shows. “Enoch,” you say, remembering the dead child’s name, and draw your jacket around your sunken chest, the colorless coat you looted from a sleeping pigman after the hobos drove you away from their circle of Jake-leg hootch. As the carnival boss settles a thimble of freak-show gin into your trembling hands, he offers a gig in a geek cage. With a pallet to sleep on under a miscellaneous tent among blue moonshine and chicken crates. This is how the rest of your life begins. 

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana where he needs to have a tree cut down so his pollinator garden can get more sun. His poems have appeared in Hobo Camp Review and Wild Word. Poems are forthcoming in Book of Matches and Unbroken.

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