The Carnival, The Life

No Ideas But In Things. ISBN 978-0-9859-468-1-4  

by David Allen Evans

David Allan Evans' vision is virtually limitless. Born of the great expanse of South Dakota and touching locales as distant as Mexico, China and the Isle of Man, Evans expression of that vision is as subtle as it is encompassing. The Carnival, The Life is a meditation on a life well lived. Visit Dave's blog at No Ideas But In Things.   

David Allan Evans was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He has a BA from Morningside College, an MA from the University of Iowa and an MFA. from the University of Arkansas. He is the author of nine collections of poems, and his writing has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bush Artist Foundation of St. Paul, Minnesota. Twice he has been a Fulbright Scholar in China. He was a professor of English at South Dakota State University for 39 years, and Writer-in-Residence. In 2002 he was appointed Poet Laureate of South Dakota . He lives in Dakota Dunes with his wife Jan.

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Excerpts from  The Carnival, The Life

Excerpts from The Carnival, The Life

Waking Up At Four A. M.

I reach back and grab a cool metal bar
at the head of the bed-the way any

primate grabs a limb to steady itself-
and there they are again, in my head,

near the end of their fight: the tiger,
and the once-frisky young bull on

that dusty arena floor years ago
in Guilin, China . . . all the people

yelling, the bull-no longer able to
elude the inexorable claws and teeth,

and gradually winding down-the tiger-
aiming its precise bites again and again

at the same raw spot on the right
foreleg-easily ducking the sluggish,

predictable horns-the bull finally
breaking down, collapsing . . . the scene

plays out until something gives way in
my mind's merciful dust, loosening

my grip on the bar, yielding to
the softer claws of sleep.


("Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel)

A seal barely floating, 
with a red gaping gash
on its side, is plucked
from the sea by three men
in an observation boat. 
One of them holds it by
the tail as it tries to fling its
head around and bite him,
as the boat cuts the waves
toward an island of seals. 
Released close to shore, 
this one will survive,
the narrator says, thanks to
a thick layer of fat.

It can happen that way:
one day something suddenly
hits you from below, flings
you high in the air and upside
down, you land with a hard
alien smack, flail around
a few minutes, discover
you're barely upright.

Somehow, you reach a safe
place without being hit again,
and then you do the only thing
you can do: lie there and suffer
until you're strong enough and
hungry enough to venture out-
but from now on and for a long
time, with your eyes open wider, 
your moves lighter and quicker, 
if not quite as deep and far out
as before that first hit and that
first red wound.



It's about time I said this
(my mother gone 30 years): 
not quite all of the sting has gone out of
that after-midnight scene in our house
on the railroad bluff over half a century ago.

It started with a stubborn defiance
of curfew one too many nights, 
and then my being sure that I could slip
in as quietly as a burglar. And yet I
didn't expect to see the rough lath
in her hand as she stood just inside
the kitchen door-or the fury in her eyes.

It's magical, the way some wounds -
on thighs, on knees or in the heart-
can keep on stinging for so many years, 
and yet even as they're stinging, 
healing with forgiveness.


Vice Versa

It's true: 
You don't like

everybody I like,
and vice versa.

And yet-
I love you

and vice versa. 
Leave it at that?

And yet, and yet-
I'll leave it at that-

and vice versa?