“Other Circus” by John Grey

At twilight,
one circus leaves town,
another pitches its tents.

The children’s matinee
was all bright balloons
and candy apples.
At night, the pin-headed man
pricks the air out of everything,
the bearded lady
polishes that fruit
under her sweaty arm-pit.

With the morbid
resurrection of the darkness,
Princess Esmeralda and
her white stallions
gallop away
to make room for
Captain Leroy who
writhes atop
a snapping snake.

And there’s no parade of elephants,
just a blathering consortium
of rabid dogs.

For this night-time show,
the net is removed
from the high-wire,
the ring-master
lashes his flesh
with his own whip,
the cages are dismantled
so the beasts run free.

And the clowns…
they no longer need grease-paint
their sullen faces.
They’ve seen the humor and it’s no joke.

By the way,
no head in the lion’s mouth just yet.
The tiger’s still playing with it.


John Grey has been published recently in The Echolocation, Bryant Literary Review and Caveat Lector with work upcoming in Clark Street Review, GW Review and The Potomac Review.
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