by Bruce Boston

When they light the river at carnival time and the pleasure boats pass along the strand, their colored globes glittering in the air and glistening reflections in the dark water… 

When they light the churches and the high cathedrals at carnival time and the choirs of angelic children and sweet castrati sing in silvered tones to the magnificence of God, and the grand organs play within sanctified walls richly adorned by the capital penance of our salvation…

When they light the city at carnival time and the jester-priests move amidst the throngs with their sharp wits and astonishing acrobatics, bells jangling from the limp crowns of their pointed hats, their barbed switches ready for eager sinners… 

When they light the streets and the long concourse at carnival time and the music blares from the speakers, and we are reduced to specks multiplied, dancing and amoebic in the swirling night, the armored vehicles inching their  passage through the static of our passion… 

When they light the parks and the public squares at carnival time, and the grass  and bushes are trampled underfoot, and limbs are torn from trees by the weight of those upon them, and the grounds stained by tattered debris, and the stone  statues of revered statesmen and national heroes defaced by an anonymous  rage that taps the current of our lives like an anarchic dream… 

When they light the alleys and festering tenements beside the dank canal at carnival time, and the carnival flows beyond the harbor to rule the spider web of streets where drunken knives flash beneath pornographic neon, and blood is spilled on the pavements, and sirens play long quartets and trios into the night… 

When they light the world at carnival time and life becomes an isle of harsh brilliance that glares through the uncounted hours, and thought and vision are transformed by the mass of the moment, and the beast appears in its swinish glory, rooting to a beat that fills the airwaves, snorting in tongues so human its exclamations ride a thundering cadence we nearly understand… 

When they light existence at carnival time and the dying lights flicker in the flat plate of a photographic dawn, and the shorn streets and linear facades are enchanted by savage clarity, and carnage is real…

Bruce Boston has received a record seven Rhysling Awards, a record five Asimov’s  Readers’ Choice Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Grand Master Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He is the author of forty books and chapbooks, most recently the humorous collection Etiquette with Your Robot Wife. For more information, please visit his website.