fair%20sheep.jpg Every year I look foward to attending the Alameda County Fair. It's one of the highlights of the summer, in my opinion. Last year I was introduced to the thrill that is horse racing! It was one of the things that nudged me into taking my riding lessons. And then there is the bad food, pseudo hamburgers and thrice-dipped corndogs. Oh, and terrible karaoke.

But most of all, I can't wait to visit the animals and see the exhibitions. People from all over the valley enter the zillions of creative competitions. Art, poetry, photoraphy, cooking, quilting, drafting, writing, composing... And every year I spend time pouring over the entries, from the winning collection of bottle caps to the finger painting of a panda, and I kick myself for forgetting to enter something. Anything.

fair%20piglets.jpg The Fair is a terrific place to get lost in the simplicity of life when it's boiled down to jam tastings and ferris wheels. But it's a better place to test your skill at some art form. The judges are kind and, honestly, out to encourage beginners in any field. You can observe the reactions of your audience with an almost absolute anonymity. And if you win... you can throw a little party and take pictures and keep the ribbons.

This year I actually kicked myself into gear and entered three poems. One of them was not chosen. In Anticipation of Autumn was first posted here last August, but it's undergone many changes since then. And it remains to be one of my favorite self-composed poems. However, I was fortunate enough to have two poems selected for exhibition in the Fair. As it is impossible for everyone to attend the Fair (though you really ought to try for all of the aforementioned reasons), I decided to post my winning poetry here. Lemonade Tart and tang mingle, an optimistic tango, tapping on my tongue. fair%20haiku.jpg Fleeting Three little girls wearing hats, this is what you see. not our fathom-deep hearts-- not our grappling with life-- not the times we dip tentative toes into womanhood.

We are moonbeams dancing,
self-assured as three
and scared of nothing but ourselves
and of loneliness.

So, we run, fingers clasped,
flying fleetly 'round our little town
singing a song that rings a bell
somewhere deep inside,
and you begin to sing along,

Then we're gone.

We're women on our own now,
living hard and long
just like everybody else and you.

But at times we're still enchanted
by the presence of the other two.
Angelic demons,
blowing kisses and dandelions,
beckoning to ourselves, our big selves,
Come and play!

That's when we don our hats.
Suddenly we're Youth;
we're Pleasure;
we're grass between your toes.

Don't blink; you might miss it,
our deep red laughter, like tomatoes
or a Summer dawn
on a day so long
we can fill it double-full
with laughter and love.
My favorite moment of the Fair this year happened on the first night we visited, taking advantage of $2 Tuesday. As Jonathan, my parents and I walked through the gallery looking for my poetry, I heard two young girls laughing and whispering together. They were probably in fifth or sixth grade, pony-tailed and bright-eyed. The taller of the two was up on her tip-toes, peering at a framed work and mouthing the words softly. "Tart and tang mingle..." My poem. She read it several times, and her friend repeated the words after her. And all at once they were skipping off, happily singsonging the tap dancing lines of my Haiku. It may have been the proudest moment of my life as a poet.