CIRC/US

Inspired by Ericka Duffy’s mention of the scent of carnivals I thought I’d put up my circus poem, which draws on smell as one of its means of communicating the idea of the circus.

 

CIRC/US

I

WALK AROUND LIKE THIS:

Dum da ladadada dum da lada

Ha ha la la the horses are made of sugar their heads have pink feathers get out of the car car car car car car car car car car car clown clown clown clown clown clown clown clown clown clown clown you clown you ha ha la la

My uncle ran away with the circus to be a clown.  He fell in love with the lady on the trapeze.  I met her once when I was a little child.  She taught me how to melt bits of glass into a twist of metal to make a red apple.  I remember her eyes not her face.

I remember her eyes not her face.
I remember her eyes not her face.

Ha ha la la the horses shit in a sack they lick their own fetlocks the horses are made of sugar when they dance the white sugar rises like dust and the lions ROAR get out of the cage cage cage cage cage and run run run run run run run run run run you clown you ha ha la la

This is the heart of the clown; it is a balloon.  Inside, the last of the burning gas – and glitter all over the floor.  Old violet perfume, Russian fag smoke, buttered popcorn and salt (doesn’t have a smell), manure and the hay and the oats and the rum (the strong man sailed) and the tears (don’t have a smell) and the fire-eater’s farts and the cats and the ground-up greasepaint and camellia soap the bearded lady used to shave (just her breasts) and the clean, sad lick of snow coming down from the mountain; here, have it, here.

No wonder he cries.  No wonder his lips hang down like a saggy hot dog.  Mi amor, sings the gypsy, mi amor, mi amor, mi amor, mi amor, mi amor.

II

The tents were always striped, smaller than you’d think.
Hot in there.
The hay soaked up most of the piss but the smell,
O that delicious, disgusting smell…

Some nights the lions would draw real blood.
I never let on.

There’s only one way I’ll die; feast.
How else, after all the years?

They watch me, ragged, wondering

Who will go first?
I whisper, me.

III

She fell.  He watched her, couldn’t believe – everything
In slow motion as you’d expect.

She fell.

No one even tried to catch her.

It was too,
Too beautiful.

He stood with his black top hat raised in one white-gloved hand.

IV

Silk, brocade, jacquard,
Wool, felt, tweed,
Burlap,
Taffeta, tulle,
Fur,
Leather,
Rubber,
Muslin,
Sackcloth, ribbons, rags.

V

WALK AROUND LIKE THIS:

Dum da ladadada dum da lada

There was a man with an accordion and a boy with a fiddle.
The girl sang with the voice of a virgin queen.

Sometimes when I am drifting to sleep, I can hear it…

Dum da ladadada dum da lada

Like a piece of dust caught on the skin of my eye;
If you rub it, it hurts more.
So you have to let it play itself out.

If there was a way to go back, I would.

I would.

The first snow on the peak of the mountain
But still petals on the trees and
Everyone laughing,
Even the saddest clown.

Pitch fires burning beside each caravan.

Tiny Chinese gymnasts
Making a necklace of their bodies
And an elephant spraying water at the stars.

(c) 2011 JL Williams

 

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