The Great Masquerade

R C deWinter


i fell down a hole i never saw
into a checkerboard world
done up in art deco by way of dali
nothing made sense
but when had it ever anyway

everything gilded
sleek and shiny
people costumed

there was a small army of marie antoinettes
and every short man was striding across
the squares with an arm bisecting his chest
trying to be the best napoleon ever

some had gotten themselves up as animals
and dressed their pets as people
two-legged tigers and women with wings
danced to the music of a monkey orchestra
while bradpittbulls tried to mount cows
wearing crowns and victorian crinolines
around their middles

of course none of that worked so the dogs
howled and barked and raced about in a frenzy

completely lost
dizzied by mad mayhem
i grabbed a portly gentleman by his curly pig tail
and asked for help

but he only oinked
pinched my bluejeaned butt
handed me a placard
an then ran off
in pursuit of an overlypainted and
bejewelled young woman
who i think was supposed to be catherine the great
but i couldn’t be sure
and didn’t she prefer horses anyway

you’ve been summoned
read the placard in an animatronic growl
to the great masquerade
don’t come as you are
and be sure the sun is shining for your grand entrance
or you’ll be sent to the slaughterhouse

i looked up at the sky
there was no sun
only clouds heavy with heartache and saltwater taffy
trying their best to blot out anemic daylight

and i
the uncostumed guest who arrived
at the masquerade on a partly cloudy day
knew i was doomed



RC deWinter’s poetry is anthologized in New York City Haiku (NY Times, 2017), Uno: A Poetry Anthology (Verian Thomas, 2002), Cowboys & Cocktails: Poetry from the True Grit Saloon (Brick Street Poetry, April 2019) in print in 2River View, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, Pink Panther Magazine, Down in the Dirt, Scarlet Leaf Review, Genre Urban Arts and in numerous online literary journals.