The Carousel

See the painted horses galloping in circles-
                                                     I am one of them, struck through the belly
with a swizzle stick, a gold pole as golden
                                                     as that glowing pint of molten sunshine I
 hold outside the striped tent, the plastic cup
                                                     wobbling between my hands as I raise it
to my lips and the fizzing disc spits up my nose,
                                                     and I am chasing the painted ostrich whose
long legs give her the advantage, keeping
                                                     her two strides ahead of me, as I accept the
glass tumblers at that party,   each time more
                                                     full of vodka than orange, and knock them
back until the kitchen begins to lurch and
                                                   swing, then I wander off to vomit, more ill
than I’ve ever been, and the carousel is
                                                   speeding up, the faces flash by faster, and
the organ music grows louder, while the
                                                   cockerel with the red cockscomb pecks at
my right heel, leaping as I lower, and I reel
                                                   from buying a green plastic bottle of cider,
to nicking a bottle of blue curacao, and
                                                    wearing bridle and bit I bare my teeth,
half grimace, half grin, as the painted swirls
                                                    grow more intense and the organ even more
discordant, and I race through the years of
                                                     beers at the bar, spilling my drinks on the
dancefloor, scuffing the dust or trampling
                                                     grass, drinking glass after glass after glass
after glass, and so it goes on, this carousel
                                                    keeps turning, from the first cold pint on a
warm summer’s evening, to red wine by the
                                                    fire to get me through the winter, and I’ve got
an excuse for each season- each day of the
                                                    week, each hour of the day- but I’m starting
to sense a weight on my back, as if something
                                                   has climbed on without me knowing, and is
riding me as I’m chasing my tail, no clue what
                                                 to do when the music stops or mechanism fails.



Thea Smiley is a poet from Suffolk. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and other competitions, long listed for the Rialto Nature and Place competition 2022, and published in various magazines, including Spelt and The Alchemy Spoon.