The Prophet and the Summer Fair

Where he finds his people gathered, the Prophet

The beginning of this poem seems almost biblical in nature, and reads almost like a sermon or a parable, which brings a sense of timelessness to the words and the scene, as though it could be happening in any time period. Then, when we are shown that it is in fact sometime around the present day, it comes as an interesting surprise. – Kyle Austin, age 22

will speak of the last great wind and the trust
of birds, he thinks, as he teeters into the gusts
like a crow, his black suit coat blowing
behind him. Closing his eyes, he spreads
his arms and imagines gliding toward where,
from the woods beyond town, he hears
the raffle and laughs of some summer fair.

The word "raffle" is unexpected and a great way to describe a fair, it sounds almost medieval. – Patricia Schlutt, age 15

Walking a road that follows the curve
of rapids, he sees the first sign, nailed to a tree

above a group of white deflated balloons,
pointing: This Way to the Community Fair.
Unable to cross where the river’s grown wide
before the falls, the Prophet watches the fair
from the other side: rows of children,

some stepping gently, others in a jaunty dash,
trying to balance eggs on plastic spoons,
beckoned by cheering adults with blue ribbons.

These images are a great way to relate the isolation of the Prophet to the rest of the world. – Patricia Schlutt, age 15

Clowns follow close behind the little ones
with cartons of eggs. One kid’s, then another’s

topples and splats. Some try to catch the falling
ovals, one kneels over crushed fragments,
hands down in the golden goop, and starts to cry.
Cupping his hands to his mouth, the Prophet shouts:
Children, it will be like this for you

in the breaking days, carrying the fragile world
of your birth through the distance and wind…

The Prophet’s statement “carrying the fragile world / of your birth through the distance and wind…” is a thoughtful depiction of one’s responsibility for their decisions and their life. - Zachary G. Tomaszewski, age 21

but drowned by the river, the roar around
the ribbon winner, the honk of the clown’s horn,
the Prophet’s voice doesn’t reach them,

except for one child who stops crying
and stands in the field of shattered eggs
looking across the river in his direction.
The race ending, he turns to receive another egg,
walking slowly, guarding it with his life.

This poem is fascinating and gripping. The image of a “prophet” is one not commonly seen in
today’s world, yet one we are all familiar with. His use of the carnival in contrast with a serious
messenger is one that grabs attention and shakes us awake. - Raegan Flikkema, age 16
It is interesting to think that the distractions and volume of modern day life prevent us from hearing the voice of the “prophets,” or of those who are attempting to cut through the drama and pettiness of every day living to remind us what life is really about: making the world a better place, preparing the next generation to take care of the fragile world we are blessed with. It is sad that so few can hear and take on this duty. – Kara Madden, age 23
Again, there seems to be a timelessness to the ending of the poem, as every generation must come into it’s own, and must inherit the earth and the society that the previous generation has left behind, but what makes this poem especially effective and relevant is the urgency with which the prophet speaks, as though this time around the inheritance is that much more important. I also love how the poem celebrates the infinite and unknown potential harbored within each and every child. – Kyle Austin, age 22


--Robert Fanning, from American Prophet (Marick Press, 2006)

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.