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Local Poets, Local Inspiration
'ODE TO THE LOOFF CAROUSEL'
Installed in 1911 on the Boardwalk
By ocean swells, tides, and winter fury
When the merry-go-round is locked and stored,
Horses removed for repair where kids' shoes
Rubbed the saddles, their hands thinned tails
Made of real horse hair, these marvels—Looff
Also made camels—get new paint on
Intricate carvings, on scimitars, starred
Saddle blankets, on bridles with medallions
Embossed. Each horse different—a longer nose,
Hair tossed, or a see-through mane. Carvers
Came from Europe, were furniture makers
Like Looff and his sons, inspired by hoofs
Of Crusader's mounts whose blankets
They made of leather. Later, medieval pageants
Resulted in gem-studded reins, flowing ribbons,
And canticles with gargoyles carved beneath,
All fierce, elegant—never plain.
Antique carousel with steel rings
Now plated brass for circling youth
To lean toward and grab while the organ
An 1894 wonder plays a Strauss waltz
Or Sousa march and grandkids embark
On a circular journey then stand down
Grown-ups linger, look back
As organ pipes pound out tunes
Not far from seals and flattened sand dunes.
Dona Stein, a former Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, is the author of the forthcoming book 'Alice in Deutschland' (Jacaranda Press). A longtime resident of Santa Cruz, she now produces and hosts 'The Poetry Show' from KRFC in Fort Collins, Colo., at www.krfcfm.org.
Poet Robert Sward edits 'Local Poets, Local Inspiration,' which appears in this space the first week of each month.
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