Photograph of Old Arverne by John Grey

Pier theater –
Greek Columns, three-floor windows,
advertising silent films, vaudeville acts,
is washed away in a storm –

laughs are broken on the rocks,
dancers blown out to sea,
Charlie Chaplin’s cane is snapped in two,
moustache rips from his face –

a melodrama plays out like a pea
in the growling stomach of another melodrama’s stomach,
see the man juggle nine-pins, wind and foam,
the daredevil on the high tower
dives into a tiny bucket of roiling ocean-

for your entertainment, floating seats,
a mermaid selling cigarettes,
a shark in a black hat and cape
tying the heroine to the tracks often foot waves –

curtain flapping like a sail,
pianist mixing in the funeral march
with Trail of the Lonesome Pine,
clown faces painted with crab-shell and kelp,
cowboy rides his horse into
a wall of emphatic gray clouds,
outlaws are corralled by planks of busted pier,
at the bottom of the bill, the sea bed.

About John Grey