Mark McDonnell


Even in the schoolyard, I think I knew, yet
gripped the heavy promise of pails of sunlight,
shining plasma spilling down rusted metal,
splashing on pavements.

Turning slow in trampoline light and laughter,
paper monsters dance on their clipper fasteners,
all is breathless joy and you said you'd meet me
by the tombola.

Ferris wheel, come turn for me, time's a-flyin'
Waltzers, waltz me faster and blur the houses —
terraced rows dissolving in sullen dark like
promises fading.

Reach and hook for fishes in bulging plastic,
flicking, orange flash – but the sun is sinking.
Coloured lights laid out onto thick tarpaulin,
loaded on lorries.

Rolling out of town, they left flattened patches,
empty cans and wondering in the twilight
where you got to, carnival queen. I waited,
laden with pennies.

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Mark McDonnell lives in Staffordshire, England, with his wife, his teenage twins and two cats. He teaches English in a secondary school. His poetry has appeared in various journals including The Dark Horse, Antiphon and Measure, and his poem ‘Communion’ was on the final shortlist for the 2017 TLS Mick Imlah Poetry Prize.