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Local Poets, Local Inspiration


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

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

Poet Robert Sward edits 'Local Poets, Local Inspiration,' which appears in this space the first week of each month.

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