The Proving Ground explodes violently day after day
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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