Ordinary Phenomena: Birdmen in Flight

The crowd trickles in and out of lines, lips dulcet and candied, breaths loud and permeating.

Glowing green-and-blue outline of twisting rollercoaster tracks, a green bird flying above.

Fairy floss strung around the roots of your teeth, tongues fizzing with sugar, and holy incense sent skyward from booths of hot tornado potatoes and pork skewers. You are yammering, excited. The cotton candy melts easily on your tongue. You haven’t been to a fair since you were a kid. Your belly rises and falls. The crowd trickles in and out of lines, lips dulcet and candied, breaths loud and permeating. A man on stilts slinks through the crowd with wide, red lips, a moon face gleaming, his body fluid as syrup. It is otherworldly, almost, so that your friends must keep hold of you as not to lose you in the fray. You lose your appetite on a ride that plummets you to the earth, unspooling your stomach and yanking it back. You lose your head on a Gravitron that spins you at light-speed, and you’re not sure at what point you lost your sunglasses. You lose your voice, your throat ragged and dry. You lose your mind in the hall of mirrors and games of chance, existing in duplicates and triplicates. There are stalls where you knock down pegs and shoot water by pistol into a clown’s open mouth. You trade dollars for attempts at victories and, more often, losses. You don’t take home any goldfish, but you see a man with fins for arms float high across the Yarra. He falls violently to the water so you all laugh. He is no birdman. None of the men in costumes are carried by the wind, instead drifting downstream and drenched in the Yarra’s unending flow. Still, you are flying, more bird than person at any point throughout the day, but especially in the grip of the ferris wheel. You drift into twilight, neon pinwheel-striped patterns washing across your upturned face. Your mouth is stained by shaved ice, made fluorescent under the moonlight. The ferris wheel is alight in technicolour, the glowing rainbow haze shifting in waves as the carriages turn with gravity’s pull. The world is blurred at the edges. You can see the whole city from the top. You drink it in, the lights, the night, the wind in your teeth. Your heart is in your throat, the fairy floss you munched on earlier caught at the back of your molars. Feet dribbling over the seat, your friends sway, testing the limits of the little box, seeing how high you can swing before the car does a full 360. It creaks with each push and pull, up and down as it rounds. It hums, an elongated breath to match your own when it stalls, both you and the ride in awe of the way the sky swallows you whole. A man above you shouts that he rules the world like he is in Titanic. Below you a couple shares a kiss. You soar over the ground, the people on earth the size of seeds. Moving in lurches and groans, gravity draws you back down and around. Something shifts inside you all. None of you says it, but you know that the second you get off the ferris wheel, you will not be the same people you were when you got on. Your face is flushed a glazed cotton candy pink. A hand slips through the open car door to help you down the steps. You hesitate, look to your friends. One more time around and you each promise you’ll go home. Just one more, you promise, before the dawn smothers you whole.

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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