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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


by Mary Saracino

It’s a wonder no one ever peeks behind
the wide-eyed gaze of Mardi Gras
to unmask what lurks beneath the revelry.
Anarchy has always reigned unchecked
for one brief, glorious day at carnival time in— Rio,
New Orleans, Venice, Palermo, the whole world round.
The disenfranchised thumb their noses
at powerful hands seen—or unseen—
whose fists slam shut the gate of self-rule
all the other three-hundred-sixty-four days.
Once each year, from dawn to dawn,
the hours crack open, cities surge
with subterranean vigor, streets
and people erupt, a riff of soulful saxophone,
the throbbing beat of hearts fierce and thriving,
the pounding rage of shattered levees
releasing the deluge. For one brief day the silenced
are set free, the world turns upside down,
men and women morph into rebels,
grow rowdy and roar, kings become peasants,
peasants don tiaras and dance;
bespangled queers prance, no longer bashed
and beaten, untied at last from the fence posts
of puritan prudery, defiantly kissing in public,
marrying their unbridled spirits
to all things good and true.

Mary Saracino is a novelist, memoir writer, and poet who lives in Denver, CO. Her newest novel The Signing of Swans is to be published by Pearlsong Press in the fall of 2006.