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I have put the bookmarker between the pages of Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” and closed the book. My mind swirls in the whirlpool of thoughts, ideas and allusions that he has left behind.

I damn Calvino for where he has abandoned me; half way between reality and fantasy, half way between myself and his self, half way between logic and emotion, half way between a dying king and a traveling dreamer.

My mind spins in an ether of half-thoughts, half-ideas and half-emotions; none of them yet fulfilled. My half-intellect says “Stay here.”

My half-human rebuts; “Turn on the television — escape this unsettling madness — avoid thinking.”

I succumb to my thoughts, my madness.

The foggy ether of this mental confusion is disrupted by a slight breeze; not a real breeze but rather a Calvino breeze somewhere in my own mind. It whisks away half of the fogginess. I see something whirling, spinning, turning. The breeze stops and the fog returns. I see nothing.

Then a bit of the fog lifts and the spinning whirligig returns. It does not hang from the ceiling or wall but appears to be on my own plane, my own level. It slows – – – and then slows some more. The rotational speed appears to have its own half-life. And then I hear a half-voice, here, yet at a distance.

“Do not dismount until we come to a complete stop.”

The command is obeyed and my muscles freeze waiting for the spinning mass to halt. Finally, in rejection of its own half-life, it stops. Children jump from it and run around the circular mass seeking an exit while excitedly hollering;

“Mommy – – – can we do it again?”

The fog completely clears yet my mind is only half-functional. I hear but do not see.

Dazedly I sit here; one, two, three or more minutes. A whistle is blown, a small bead in its bowels spins to give the whistle a shrill and deafening staccato. My mind’s eye opens and I find myself standing in front of a carousel. The children have disappeared.

The staccato whistle blows a second time. A decision must be made; the carousel starts with a spasm. I jump aboard and desperately hang on to a shiny bronze pole. The pole is attached to the floor and then disappears up in the canopy.

As the carousel gains speed, against its own half-life, a base drum beat begins; unaccompanied. The carousel accelerates yet the drum beat remains the constant. Then, suddenly, a crash of cymbals makes me grasp the bronze pole tighter. A set of snare drums joins the cacophony of percussions. I wish to cover my ears but am afraid to let loose of the bronze pole.

Finally, an old circus organ joins the percussions to make a bearable sound. All is more peaceful except for the wheezing old bellows that make up the lungs of the half-circus half-carousel organ.

My mind, on its own volition, decides it wishes to conjure up new thoughts. I release my grip on the bronze pole and leap up on a wooden horse. Nothing new occurs to me. The horse is stationary except for the circular motion of the carousel. I see other thought-horses that look more promising than this circular half-motioned one.

My eyes seek a more energetic equine as I dismount. I see one to my liking, put my foot in the stirrup, and take to the saddle as the horse rises in the air.

My thoughts explode as my new ride rises up and down. The automaton band appears and disappears with regularity. The master of the carousel keeps a close eye on me as he holds up his whistle. He appears to threaten that he will curtail these thoughts that I seek.

And so I ride the Dionysus horse as fast as possible. I cajole and take the strap to him. However, he appears set on one pace; his own. The automaton band takes on a Doppler effect as we travel nearer to it then farther from it. The wheezing of the bellows seems to belie the healthy sound of the organ.

Then, unexpectedly, on the horizon, through the caged fence that keeps the children at bay, through a sparse stand of maples, beyond the border of lilacs, I see a train. It travels on one of two tracks that divide my home city into two halves.

The Dionysus mount gallops on at full speed. I see my first love. She meets me in the dark. We hold each other tightly, almost afraid to let each other go.

I see a man offering me an excellent job in his factory; second shift. I accept it. The carousel continues its circular path to nowhere. Another vision appears; I leave work early to see my first love. I see, instead, my nemesis exiting my first loves door. The fog overcomes the carousel once more.

When it lifts, I remain astride Dionysus. He gallops forward to show me a second love; one that I keep physically close but emotionally at bay. I cannot bear to view my nemesis a second time. My second love draws nearer; I wish to draw away, to retreat from memories, avoid possible pain, to escape.

As my mount, Dionysus, comes around full circle, for what appears to be the thousandth time, I find myself in uniform. I am in yet another half-city. In one half the soldiers are marching and practicing with their weapons. In the other half some airplanes take the soldiers to war while the remaining planes practice with their weapons.

I have foolishly escaped my second love.

Dionysus carries me between these four half-cities; the two halves of my hometown and the two halves of the city of war.

With precise regularity the carousel master shows me his whistle. Once again, I dig my spurs into Dionysus. He surprises me with a flight into the air. Below I see the two halves of my home town. I see an adulteress on the northern half-city. I see myself approaching her. We meet. She seems unconcerned.

“He works nights” she says.

Dionysus turns his eyes away as we get to know each other’s desires. We part as we met, not knowing or caring about each other.

Dionysus whinnies and shudders his flanks. We take to the air once more. This time we fly over the southern half-city-half-home town. I see another adulteress. I see myself approaching her. We meet. She seems unconcerned.

“He work nights” she mimes the first one.

Again, Dionysus turns his head to avoid the vision of my failings. I take leave of the adulteress without caring and she returns the favor. Yet something haunts me. I find myself astride Dionysus. My stallion carries me through the fog. I pat the wooden horse on the neck to thank him for his service. A tear rolls down his cheek and washes away my fog. A shriek escapes my throat;

“I have become my own nemesis.”




The carousel master blows his whistle. I have begun to hate its sound. The mechanism comes to a stop long after the automaton has stopped playing its music. I ask the carousel master if I may stay on.

“All must exit and then return” he states.

I hurriedly jump off the carousel, exit the gate, run the half-circle around the cage, attempting, but not yet wishing to, shove some of the children aside, to ensure I get a horse on the carousel. I find the entrance and am successful. The carousel master smiles wryly at me and motions me aboard. The base drum booms, the carousel moves, the cymbals crash, the snare drums rattle and the ride starts anew. The automaton band plays to a different tune while the bellows continue to wheeze.

I jump aboard before the carousel reaches full speed. The floor is made of eight sections of boardwalk; forty-five degrees each. As I glance toward Dionysus he looks the other way; choosing not to make eye contact for fear of being exposed to any more debauchery. I understand that he is embarrassed by me.

A new mount catches my eye. It is a war horse. He is a sturdy mount, black in color except for a white star shape on his forehead. He also sports white spats that attempt to hide his massive hooves.

There is no saddle that will ever fit this beast. He is controlled with large halters of thick reins leather. A soft padded collar encircles his neck. Half of its job is to connect the reins. The other half is to connect the bit. On this collar are two large brass balls, each mounted atop posts above this collar. I have no idea of their purpose.

There is no holding me back. As Bucephalus is lifted up and down by a hidden mechanism I leap on his bare back. He shifts left and right to adjust for my weight. I give him a pat on his wooden neck and he settles down.

The carousel master leaps aboard and walks his domain checking for violators of his rules. His whistle is held high for all to see. This threat of exile escapes no ones attention. He approaches me and stops. I tense up as does Bucephalus. The carousel master inspects Bucephalus’ general stature. He smiles approvingly at my choice of steeds. Holding his whistle up, for my benefit only, he places it firmly in his pocket, as if to say “You are now on your own.”

With that not said, he leaps off and approaches the music automaton. I lose sight of him. The music stops. I see him as I round the bend. He is changing something. Yes! I see him removing the perforated paper roll that contains the music program. A new roll is held up high; it appears, once again, to be for my benefit only. It is oil-stained and yellowed. On my next rotation I can see him feeding the leading edge into a device adjacent to the wheezing bellows; who at the moment have nothing to sing about.

And then all of the instruments play individually; independent of each other. The cymbals crash, the snare drums rattle, the organ plays off-tune and the base drum beats rapidly, like a heart that has been frightened. Then, slowly, they seem to catch up to each other. All play to the same beat. However, something is amiss. The circus organ only plays two notes; one high, one low. It is interesting, however, I feel the rhythm of monotony.

Bucephalus appears not to have heard or seen what I have seen. Yet, the beat of his hooves match the beat of the music. I lean to one side and forward to peer into his eyes. They remain fierce and determined. I feel safe.

The music becomes a drone, the monotony turns to tedium and ennui. The tone-lessness of it forces me to realize that the organ is no longer playing. Only the crash, boom and rattle of the percussions remain. I check Bucephalus again. His determination glares from his eyes.

Thank God I have Bucephalus.

The fog rolls in. All is obscured from me. My only sense of direction comes from the din of the drums and cymbals:






It is deafening yet comforting to have something, anything, exciting my senses, allowing me to escape the void of the fog that surrounds me.

The fog lifts. Half of the children are gone. It is more than perplexing, it is eerie. Half of the horses are gone; I remain astride Bucephalus. He continues his three dimensional stride; vertical, horizontal and circular. Bucephalus shudders but keeps his pace and then I see what he has sensed.

Half the children and their wooden horses have been replaced by machines; lathes, drill presses, forges, milling machines, planers, saws and even large punch presses that stamp out metallic parts. The brass rods that have driven the horses have been replaced by foot-wide leather belts. Each machine is driven by its own belt connected to a shaft. Each shaft is connected by gears to the central axle which is driven by the rotation of the carousel. The entire mass has become an automaton of perpetual motion.

The din of the percussion instruments has been replaced by the slapping and squealing of the leather belts as they slip on their pulleys. The entire automaton groans under the load; the mimesis of an old wooden ship straining under duress.





The carousel master leaps aboard and blows his shrill whistle. The remaining children dismount, each going to his pre-assigned machine. The whistle is blown a second time and the children busy themselves, each with his own task; yet in unison.





With each rotation of the carousel a child becomes tired. The master observes this slowing of production. He walks silently up behind the exhausted child and blows his whistle. The child, without looking askance, leaps back into production shaking and trembling.

I sense a strong breeze, as does Bucephalus. The breeze picks up into a wind. Bucephalus breaks stride and reaches a full gallop hoping to find shelter. I hold tightly on to his neck. The wind appears to encircle the carousel. The two, Bucephalus and the wind, increase their speed in unison. The roof protecting the carousel lifts off. Heavy rains, a deluge, falls everywhere. The children and machines are swept away. Only Bucephalus and I remain. The force of the rain stings my eyes like needles. I close them.

Much like it started, the wind and rain are abated. I open my eyes slowly, afraid of what they may observe. Unexpectedly I find the carousel, once again, divided in half. Not physically but culturally.

One-half carousel is occupied by the captains of industry, the other half-carousel by politicos. The captains sit behind ornate fruitwood desks. The desks appear to give the captains a sense of power, confidence and legitimacy. The politicos sit all in a row behind massive oaken tables. The tables appear to lend unity to their political goals.

Everything is silent in the half-city of industry. The men sit quietly, hardly moving a muscle, except for one or the other blinking and then attempting to act as if he never blinked.

Four lawyers huddle off to the side mumbling between themselves.

Two of them split off to whisper something in the politicos’ ears.

The politicos give a synchronized nod of approval. The lawyers convene again.

The two other lawyers walk over to the captains and whisper something in their collective ears. The captains nod in agreement, open their desk drawers and hand over large bundles of currency.

The money is collected by the captain’s lawyers and then given over to the politico’s lawyers for a simple handshake and a smile. The money is then deposited on the large oaken table in front of the politicos. There is a mad scramble between the politicos who are trying to grab as many bundles as possible. A few bills fall to the floor. These, with great prestidigitation, find their way into various pockets.

All parties of this half-city leave with a smile of satisfaction.

The fog rolls back in.

When the fog leaves my eyes observe that the city has deteriorated into nothingness. Only the hulks of empty factories remain here and there.




I find myself on an empty carousel. There are no horses, only ornate and empty benches. They are painted with gaudy colors and figures; yellow walruses, blue lions, green fish and heliotrope dogs.

The carousel master motions for me to take a seat. I select the blue lions.

Love has become illusive.