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Ninteen Carnival Rides

There were colored lines on the sidewalk.
I counted them over in my head. Nineteen.
Nineteen for those who were dead.
All those men who were dragged to war,
Who only wanted to get away from the blood.
All those who were not just along for the ride.

I thought back to all those carnival rides,
Where you go flying, you think you’ll hit the sidewalk.
But when you land, there is no shed blood.
My mind flooded of those memories of him before nineteen,
Of that carefree time before he was send to war.
I stomped my cigarette out until it was dead.

As I looked around, it seemed that all the color was dead,
Even those bright convertibles that used to be so fun to ride,
The ones without bullet holes from war.
I heard feet scraping down the sidewalk.
The chirping birds started singing. I counted the whistles. Nineteen.
But the scraping came back, and I saw a boy with a knee full of blood.

It started dripping down his leg, the blood.
His face turned white, he asked me, “Am I dead?”
I told him no, and slowly counted the lines. Still nineteen.
Then I raised my head and asked the boy if he wanted a ride.
“It’s okay, I know my way home, just gotta follow the sidewalk,”
He said, and I envied him for being too young for war.

I closed my eyes and heard the guns of war,
Imagined myself in that sea of blood.
It was just as clear to me as the sidewalk.
That little boy had asked me if he was dead.
At that young age, you really are too young for war,
That carefree age before he turned nineteen.

When I opened my eyes that boy was gone. In nineteen
Seconds he had left me and my internal war
Between staying and struggling or giving into the ride.
The boy had left only one thing behind, a single drop of blood.
But he would not go home to find his brother dead.
I dragged my heels home, following the sidewalk.

Because he was dead, as early as nineteen,
I changed directions on the sidewalk, leaving behind the war, my war.
I stepped over the boy’s drop of blood, and walked back to the carnival for
one
more
ride.



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