Life with/against the Circus

Life with/against the Circus

I joined the circus sort of,
Ran away and joined the day we
Tamed, beneath the overpass, menageries of sarin gas,
The bearded lady, the leopards, and the kiwi.

That morning, some drunk ape took my ticket.
I said I should be comped because I
Helped at the concession stand. He tore the ticket from my hand
Anyway. He wasn’t going to let me get away with a lie right at the start, now, was he?

You had your speech at the ready
When I saw you between the trapezes:
“Think first of others, and be kind, something something, theory of mind,
Something something Emerson, something something Jesus.”

“That tears it. I’m running away,”
I vowed, that kind of adolescent vow, eternal,
Yes, and binding. Heigh ho! Next thing I’m finding
Myself chatting you up as I shovel uric acid out of the ostrich’s urinal.

“Call me old fashioned but I don’t think monkeys
Should mate with men and make monsters
In the first place,” you stated, which kind of obviated
The idea of a circus, the idea of an entertainment predicated on disasters.

But what can you do? That was, we were the circus.
We had the tent pole, we had the bull whip.
The strongman kneeled. The seal sealed.
The tiger tigered. We had the popcorn, we had the bandstand. The programs, printed by us, hung in a museum,
And that museum was also the circus.

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