Support O:JA&L and the projects of Buttonhook Press

Thomas Mitchell

County Fair

Wish You Were Here by Cassandra Lynn Miller

It’s a tangle of activity, a scurry of oversized
pigs tripping and falling over each other
in the wire meshed pens lined up
on the south side of the fairground.
A young girl wearing a blue denim
Future Farmers of America jacket
strokes a brown spotted piglet
lavishly. You can tell by her gaze
that at this stage of her life
the piglet is her one love. Nearby,
a boy fitting loosely in his green
John Deere ball cap casually
glances at her while he rakes straw.

Along the fairway, rows of bleachers,
mainly empty, and an arena waiting
for the rodeo to begin. A cloud of pale
dust rises like smoke as a riderless bull
grunts and heaves like a runaway steam
locomotive. The hapless rider, twisted
in his own jersey, limps away breathing
a low murmur of obscenities. All around,
the metal brackets give and take as the fans
rise and fall in the stands.

By nightfall, the lemony lights
of the midway glow gently
over the arcade, the sweet smell
of fried bread drifting in the air,
the staccato of the shooting gallery,
as the spectacular tilt-a-wheel
ratchets and shakes, whirling
in concentric circles, then
gliding toward the stars.


About the writer:
Thomas Mitchell studied with Richard Hugo and Madeline De Frees at the University of Montana where he completed an MFA in Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including The New England Review, New Letters, California Quarterly, The New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, and The Chariton Review. Mitchell’s two collections of poetry, The Way Summer Ends (2016) and Caribou (2018) were published by Lost Horse Press. His new collection, Where We Arrive, was released in the Spring of 2021. Thomas Mitchell was recently selected as the recipient of the Cloudbank Poetry Award.

Image: Wish You Were Here by Cassandra Lynn Miller (contemporary). No medium specified. No size specified. 2020. By free license.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporationsupporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.