Treasure Island

Norman Santos

(Nov.19,1990 / Philippines)

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Carousels Before The War

In the silence of the station and its insatiable yearning
To be filled with tourists and passengers
And bludgeon obliviously to the familiar feeling
Roused by scent and warmth of their far-flung home,
Another tourist loitered juxtaposed the ticket booth
Careening over the burning rails of nostalgia
Because the calendar pages holds a succinct
Concern for the macabre in inertia
Her coruscating soul was plummeting from her lips
Waiting for the sleeping train to stir and growl

This tourist stared at me unwaveringly
With the tackling of her foreign eyes, rolled the dice
Like a steely glacial wheel chafing with the rails
And I could have feigned a fuming act
But I knew very well who this tourist was
She lives in my sala, behind the crumbling wallpapers
I stared back into the voids of oblivion
And in her skyscraping eyes, I saw thoroughly
The war before the sunrise slithering
In the reflection of a gaunt and baffled man

I kept my luggage beside my prattling legs
Gorged choking with uniforms, a diary, and rue
The death is casted before the war had started
So I could never have heeded any less
And the blaring ominous noise of peril
In the colorless haze of the half-empty half-full station
Commandeers the scarce facial muscles
To feign a facile smile for a cordial departure
Before the struggle for subsistence
In a torpor war with the flustered brooding soldiers

The radio sent forth a cringing wave of dread
Drifting a jingle subdued by the pensive noise
Of wives and kids and colleagues and ghosts
The melody beckoned me to ride a carousel
And the station was a theme park where
The idea of heaven deems to be unavailable
But I let the carousing carousels go on and on
And stash its melody in a hidden place
Where it would fade but never go wrong
And the carousals and the carousels live on.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Edited: Saturday, June 16, 2012

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Comments about this poem (Carousels Before The War by Norman Santos )

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  • Terry Craddock (8/25/2014 10:32:00 PM)

    Congratulations on this wonderfully developed poem. I spent a lot of time in the stanza contrasts.

    So many wars so many stations, hard to know which war to pin this one down to, country date fades into history as war replaces war, carousel of killing, clown rhetoric, speeches for soldiers...

    Does the train reference relate to the Holocaust? If so I also did about 32 relating to this era, not all historically framed, and one which is not grounded in the period 'SS Demons' proved the most popular. I was especially drawn to the title. Will read more of your work later :) (Report) Reply

  • Michelle Claus (8/25/2014 11:03:00 AM)

    Having read this poem through one time, my initial thought is that I might comprehend it better if some of its syntax were edited. The emotional quality of this poem feels like it comes from a raw, authentic place, so on the one hand I can appreciate the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. On the other hand, there are several compelling images and phrases that I want to understand better; but because the grammar isn't clear, the meaning isn't super clear to me, either. My favorite image is this: Her coruscating soul was plummeting from her lips / Waiting for the sleeping train to stir and growl. I will re-read this poem and attempt to comprehend it better, because I believe it is worth the effort. (Report) Reply

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