Pay the toll or ride once more . . .


Here we go again.

The world’s begun to spin,

round and round

and round it goes,

and here we go again.


The carousel

appeared before me,

filling me with fright.

I think . . . I thought

I know . . . I knew,





A phantasmic carnie asked,

“Do want a ride?”

I never met his gaze

though I’m certain I declined,

but he lifted me,

and without warning

I was spinning, spinning,


under his control,

and when the ride

came to an end,

he held out

his gnarled hand,

demanding to have his toll.


Inside my head

I continued to spin

I’ve no reason to pay,

I didn’t ask to play,

there’s no payment

I owe to him.


Still he stood,

and asked again,

“Do you want a ride?”

His hollow eyes

stared through me,

and his lips curled

into a twisted

sort of grin.

He said,

“Pay the toll,

or ride once more,

then we’ll talk again.”


I don’t quite know

how many times

I went round and round

and round

before I woke,

but when I did

he stood before me,

and once again

he spoke.


“Pay me what I’m due,

and you may take your leave.”

I found my voice,

and screamed in silence,

“I haven’t anything,

not even a penny

for which to pay.

I don’t know

what it is

you seem to

want from me.

Won’t you please,

just please,

I’m begging you

to turn and go away.”


He threw back his head

with a wicked laugh

and said, “Why should I

be the one to go?

Don’t you know?

It was you – It was you

who came to me.

Silly child, open your eyes,

see what you can see.”


And then I remembered

I’d been given a choice

when anxiety came to call

I could have stood

against it,

I could have fought

with all my might,

but I faltered

and I fell

and I cowered

from the fight.


I opened my eyes

to look upon

what I’d been too

afraid to see.

I steadied my heart,

I stood to my feet,

but when I looked,

there was nothing,.


waited there

for me.

Crystal R. Cook

7 thoughts on “Pay the toll or ride once more . . .

  1. I spent some time at that carnival – the Tilt-O-Whirl of Love almost killed me – the carnies took me on for awhile – i spun candy floss cause i lacked any other talent – love those guys


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