Ku Klux Klan Freak Show in Canon City, 1925: Life Poem

Image of Ku Klux Klan in Canon City, 1925

Ku Klux Klan at the Carnival in Canon City, 1925

Klansmen in hooded regalia commandeer a Ferris wheel.
3 to a car, 12 cars. As if visionless hate, rabid nationalism,
and 1st Amendment freedoms share the same carnival ride.

And this isn’t the South. It’s any given Sunday in Colorado.
By an awninged ticket booth, a handful of white sheets loiter.
They’re looking this way as if someone had said, Say, Cheese.

These 40-odd men stare back at our staring as if it’s a nice day
and they have stopped talking Wall Street or Yankees baseball,
whether their wives and daughters should have the right to vote.

Of course there is the fallacy at the heart of democracy that says
when the mob does what it does, it’s right. By simple arithmetic.
A face is said to have hovered over the waters during the creation

of the world. God’s face. If truth were the light certain mornings,
this midway would be a burning cross opening a door in the air.
If an aubade is a morning love song, this Sunday sky isn’t one,

though the noise the Ferris wheel sends up approaches singing.
Factoring in the ubiquity of folly and the capitulation of the sad,
isn’t it always Assholes Get in Free Day somewhere in America?

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). A new book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has been selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and will be publlshed in the spring of 2018 by the University of Arkansas Press. Work from that collection has appeared in Shenandoah, Pleiades, Rattle, Blackbird, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.


  1. Brilliant offering from Roy Bentley, and timely. Thanks Will and Roy for getting this beauty online.


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    Ku Klux Klan Freak Show in Canon City, 1925: Life Poem | Steinbeck Now

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