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Five dollars a day for adults,
three bucks for cantankerous children.
The clinkclankclunk of the cowbell’s tongue tolled the ritual of three
family-style belly-busting meals in a dining room set for forty.

The three-story farmhouse was fabricated
from squeaky, creaky wood and glacier-shaped stone.
A rustic, country kitchen with a walk-in fridge
was filled with black, orange and purple soda bottles.

For a nickel, crank machines with glass turbans vended
a variable hand-full of red pistachio nuts and multicolored M&M’s.
Red dye tattoos on your fingertips, chocolate blotches on your cheek
were donned as sweet and salty badges of honor.

Twelve guest rooms with flowered wallpaper,
three bathrooms, black and white tiled floors,
porcelain sinks with separate hot and cold faucets and
a white clawed-foot tub with a rubber stop on a chain.

Heavy oak sliding French doors led into the parlor with
red, shiny, fluffy, satin-fringed brocade couches and chairs.
Teenage girls called me cute, tussled and combed my hair
as a charming grandfather clock sublimely chimed.

Every step on the long staircase squawked
in the dialect of nails rubbing inside wooden cell tombs.
Dervishly sliding down the oak-stained banister,
children wrapped their loins around heaven’s womb.