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The Proving Ground explodes violently day after day
due to a failure somewhere in the works,
but tranquility has prevailed of late,
proving to Them something has finally gone right
and the Oregon carnival clown sits downs,
does a straight interview with no joking or jumping around,
and then runs into the rainforest only to find no rain there.

In midtown Manhattan a day worker wakes up alone,
stares at himself in the remnants of the broken wall mirror,
and thinks aloud: "Hey! What the hell am I doing here?"
With lighthearted contemplation, he gets into his car
and shoots the winding road at 100 mph-plus, laughing.
The Mask of Death laughs back, and the wild shrieking laughter,
intermingled with ringing cries of pain, shatters the dark
and the car lies twisted around a harmless sign which reads:


Ho-ho, and much weeping as he wings his way celestially
and counts the minutes by recounting things he's said and done,
and no matter what had really happened back there,
it doesn't count, and the scoreboard registers TILT!
Clicking back to zero, the Game is ready to begin anew,
and the straw-hatted barker announces to the rabble,
"Yass, yass, Life is nothing but a pinball machine...
"Change of a quarter, my good man?"
And they begin to pick up stones to cast...

When the Manager learns that the Game is back in progress,
he'll ring the bell at the desk in some roach-filled hotel lobby
with sprung sofas coiled with obesity in musty corners,
and he'll say to the deformed bell-hop, "Up the rates ---
"The bums have gathered outside and are multiplying!"
Somewhere among the chaotic multitude a hapless character
will remain in the background as he strums a Spanish guitar,
and he will casually read yesterday's Daily News,
"Voice of the People column,
and he'll say softly to himself,
"Arriba", and so forth until morning
when the sun will lift its unrested head and utter:
"O Jeez, again?"

The Proving Ground no longer explodes day after day
due to a significant failure somewhere in the works,
and the answers as well as the epitaphs can be found
under the wind-up, run-down merry-go-round
together with the carnival clown in the rainforests of the night
where they've been shrouded in mystery,
just like they've been from the very Beginning.

- James D. Young

Copyright 1967 Sequoya
Copyright renewed 1995 Sequoya

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The following comments are for "RAINFORESTS OF THE NIGHT"
by JamesYoung

unfamiliar ground
Okay, now you being a writer with considerable chops, why did you consider this poetry as opposed to prose? I've read most - perhaps all - of your other poetry posts and enjoyed them tremendously. This one not so much.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: February 16, 2011 )

Different Strokes
Pen, love your upfront honesty. "Rainforests..." was one of my poems heavily influenced in those years (as many other songwriters and poets were) by the frantic, nonstop, stream-of-consciousness imagery of Bob Dylan. Using the life/pinball game metaphor, I let it take me where it wanted to go. OTOH, per Auden & Bogen, it was one of the 7 they selected as citywide winners back in the day. Go figure...

Windchime, thanks also for your take on it. And with your mention of post-apocalyptic, I should mention here that I'm about one-quarter of the way through The Road and love the tale as well as the author's style. Your recommendation is highly appreciated! (Sadly, I saw his No Country for Old Men at the movies and cared not a whit for the story as Hollywood chose to retell it. Couldn't believe it won the Oscar for Best Picture, but I was pleased Bardem got it for his performance of a chilling, manipulative psycho.)

( Posted by: JamesYoung [Member] On: February 17, 2011 )

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