Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
It was just a two-bit carnival, the kind you see around
That travel through midwestern states and plays in one-horse towns.
Some sad sack clowns, a bearded gal, two-headed dog and such,
A ferris wheel and carousel that broke down way too much.
Some petty games to win a teddy or a faded doll
And those who won received their prize but not without a scowl,
But there weren't many - games were fixed - most everybody lost.
A carnival needs money, man. You gotta cut those costs.
Why did I work there? Who can say? The owner was a jerk
But, in the hills of Tennessee, a man don't find much work.
So there I was. I did it all. Sold tickets, played the clown,
And fixed that blasted carousel each time that it broke down.
'Twas in the spring of '98, in some forgotten town,
A small event took place that helped me turn my life around.
The town had looked dirt poor but I could hear the owner say
Those folks could use a break from life and he was sure they'd pay.
So up the tents went - dirty canvas, broken poles and all,
That carousel I loved so well again stood straight and tall.
The clowns slapped greasepaint on their jaws. The word was sent around
To 'grab the wife and kiddies 'cause the carnival's in town'.
My job was that of ticket seller. I took in the loot
And anyone who tried to sneak around me got the boot.
The owner told me any shorts would come out of my pay.
My pay was small enough. I wouldn't lose it in this way.
Well, toward the end of afternoon, the crowd was pretty light
When two small boys and one old man approached in fading light.
The boys were gonna walk right in until they heard me holler,
"Just hold on there, you little pups, unless you got a dollar!"
"Oh, we don't have to pay", one boy said, with a little grin.
"My grandpa knows the owner. He said we could go right in.
My grandpa's an important man", I heard him say with pride.
"The owner told him it's ok for us to go inside."
I almost laughed. The owner wouldn't let his Ma in free!
I turned to face the little man, eyes blazing angrily.
He stood there very quietly. He didn't make a sound.
He had his hat held in his hands. His eyes stared at the ground.
I turned to see the boyful grins, pride showing in their eyes
And what I knew I had to do was really no surprise.
"I'm sorry, sir," I said. "I didn't see you in this light.
Go right in ,boys. Enjoy it. What your grandpa said was right."
The boys ran past me, whooping wildly, toward the colored lights,
Enthusiasm rampant for the carnival delights.
The old man shuffled past me, eyes still down and didn't speak
But, as he passed, I saw a tiny tear slide down his cheek.
The carny lights shone bright. I was amazed how bright they shone!
I felt an inner peace, the likes of which I'd never known.
I reached inside my pocket and pulled out a wrinkled bill,
The smiled out to the waving boys and dropped it in the till.
I left the carnival next morning - hopped a nearby train.
I knew I'd learned some fact of life that I could not explain.
My life may not be rich but I will do the best I can
And always put a helping hand out for my fellow man.
[This message has been edited by Balladeer (edited 11-15-1999).]