Judge Not

So far things are going fair at today’s church fair.  Saturday’s October Fall Fest Fair I mean.

By eleven fifty I paint two butterflies, two ladybugs, a few ghosts while I nurse my coffee, a big invisible sign over my head reads:  ‘Enter At Your Own Risk.’

A toddler waddles over, asks for only knives and skeleton tattoos.  I comply.  Hope kids are not too particular with my attempts with stub crayon details.  Hate painting their superfine skin.  Ask them not to wiggle so much.  From one Botticelli I take four tickets for a greased cherry and purple flower.

Another comes in, switches me up.  Just the hair, she says.  Hot pink.

Okay, okay, I can do this, I tell myself.  Suit up, put a paper towel over her eyes.  A glow cloud sprays in her direction.  Hangs over the both of us.  Weather conditions prevail.  It goes everywhere.  Splatters mostly on the chair where she sits, drips across her thin trash bag apron.

How much are we both breathing of this quality air?

Still I cannot get her hair to turn vivid pink.  More a fade of sheer.  I keep spraying until I get a splotch over her forehead.  A widower’s ‘dot,’ fuchsia.  Hand the kid the mirror.  She thanks me sweetly, hands me her four tickets.

Keep the tickets, I say, feeling a twinge, I’m just tuning up.

Ten minutes later, shift over, booth manager arrives from her son’s soccer game to take charge.  Thanks me profusely for doing nothing.  Your welcome, I say.  Hand her my clean apron. Watch the booth from afar for the rest of the day.  See the boss go to work.  Spread her flat bristle tip tools of the church carnival trade across the table.  Plastic gloves, baby wipes, alcohol, make-up assorteds, face paint, pirate press on tattoos – large, small – roses, ribbons, candy designs, photocopy examples for make-up counter consults.

Then, she takes out her line of hair products.

Super gooey epoxy stuff from the black depths in her purse.  Comic color neon hairsprays, hair waxes, that will take weeks to wash from baby hair.  Ones teachers will write notes home over all week.

‘Maestra Capelli.’  Spaghetti hair meets its match.  A hair contortionist.

Hair that should not stand up, goes ridge pole in her hands.

In an hour flat, the church parking lot fills with rainbow punks, flare freaks, Goths.  Lines wrap the Gathering Tree from where I sit to watch the scene where I take notes with my colleagues, other off-duty types in the ‘volunteer breakroom,’ a place where we parents do double duty, where everyone’s a winner, sales always brisk.  We sit back and peel yet more tickets for our kids, greenback answers to young and old.

Do our prayers.  Where all is forgiven.

‘Done,’ or not, we are unjudged in the pop-up chapel for the fallen away.  The Beer Tent. (c) MK Smyth 2012

Honest Persimmons…(A Poem, Honest)

Balls of orange.  Piled.  Farmstand-style.  In fat squares of wafer-thin balsa baskets. Honest, plain.

On a ledge, a cobalt sign with freehand lettering reads: “Persimmons.”

Come one, come all, take one, leave your honor dollars in a jar.

While nearby like clockwork, around eleven, squirrels in deck chairs with wheels, roll-up for the buffet.

(Much enjoying the guard’s daily nap.  Not leaving, so much as a “thanks” you set the table. None I see, brings change. 

Those persimmons call me too, from the curb.

I try to shoo-shoo them from my mind, like the fly trapped inside this morning.

The last of a consortium of buzzing undertakers revealed.

Between storm windows now freed. Hangar-on-ers from last summer someone invited from the porch step when we sought a breeze.

Still those persimmons, persist as I drive-by over days.

Color strikes my joy-chords. A five-alarm-bell bangs in my head.

(If Bergdorfs did fruit, this is what fruit would look like.)

Honest and plain. (They’d figure it out in cash-irony).

Monday comes and goes, I drive by, nodding in the general direction.

Two hands on the wheel, schooled calm. 

Tuesday, faltering, a palm sweat trigger pulled. 

“Plain indeed!”

By Wednesday my unraveling will pay trice the price.

Thursday looms, a fruit zombie fighting head voices drives my car. 

“Take me to your leader, take me to your leader.” 

Friday, pulling over, my toothbrush in hand,

ready for the spaceship launch, daisy coat,slung over my shoulders, a Hollywood tourist come to see stars.

Humble sinner, though no crime done — yet.

I approach the manger scene — on all fours. So many persimmons, so little time. (“Another poor woman,” they sigh from the kitchen.)

Poor exchange, yes, but I leave an anonymous poem under the basket.  Do an army-crawl (too, like a squirrel, a quick-grab), leave my wadded dollar, I spin back to my car, 

“Stop right there, missy,” a head voice calls. 

Zowie, I’ve been had. 


By a two-sleeve gusher — a Tchaikovsky symphony, taste-bud busting, down-throat juicer.

The chin extravagance of it all in a sound, in the squish.

Suddenly, “I’s gots all kinds of time,” do a slow-mo’ crawl to a lawn chaise.

Ambrosia, is slow-food (and dinner theatre).

A clouded sky breaks open with afterlife limelight, birds chirp “our song,” the mailman, now handsome, has seen it all before.

This truant’s feast, a royal welcome for drooling, dazed, smiling fools.

(if only fruit owners had an App for this new religion, on their phones, and one number – my number.

Off-hook, I am gazing into this galaxy of fruit riches, wondering, “can I train squirrels across town to use an iPhone to text me from their satellite fruit stands?” I will take the call.

For persimmons.

I thought, my issue, under control — yet, I am slack-jawed silly in persimmon season, undone by that one, rough, peeling wood house with it’s trick display! 

Save the scene for a cold night, I tell myself.

Today I rush home, paint the sound! Hang the perspective for another day. Vivid “furiousity,” the giddy, exclaiming, extolling kind of “hello, stranger.”

Color that back-slaps me, without lifting a finger,

Closer to the fire, second chance happiness, piled high.

P4 now, digging for quarters in my car, then, in somebody else’s car. 

(My derriere up in the air, who cares?) my shirt – an apron hammock, I bag full with what I can. 

Leave my honest dollars.


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