Friday, February 9, 2018
Poem - The Greatest Show on Earth
So it's been nearly four years since I've posted anything on this silly blog I once had. I thought I'd post a couple poems I wrote in this Writer's Studio class I took last year, since they're both too long to be published anywhere else. And I don't have the energy to search high and low for somewhere to published them. I've got a trilogy of novels to edit!
The Greatest Show on Earth
Montgomery Jeeves Python lays hungover
and half-asleep, dreaming wonderful dreams
of the glory days of the circus –
the great attractions –
Garantula and Jumbo the Elephant.
Yet he feels as if a giant foot
has trodden upon his head like
a clumsy tightrope walker.
Just five years ago,
Montgomery’s Flying Circus thrived.
Crowds thrilled at Tomasso Chicolini,
the Human Cannonball,
as he soared through the air like a hawk.
They sat awestruck at
bareback riding acrobatics
with Henry the Horse,
always smoothly and
to the music of Ellington,
Basie or John Philip Sousa.
The realities of current Big Top life
haunt Montgomery like a failed marriage.
He hears Punchy, his longtime Man Friday –
who, due to dwindling ticket sales
and subsequent budget cuts,
now serves as the juggler,
lion tamer, and contortionist -
berate Escapo, the escape artist,
after botching so many tricks
that people now call him
“The Great Boo-dini.”
chides the Hendersons –
aging trapeze artists Fletcher,
Florence and Rickey –
calling them “The Flying Dull-endas.”
The celebrated Mr. Python sits up,
rubs his eyes and takes his first look
at what lies before him.
This formerly-merry jubilee
now resembles an abandoned mall
or amusement park.
Weeds, vines and rust
crawl over the old knife-throwing wheel
and the bed of nails.
Old clown shoes hang like nooses
beside the trampolines,
which haven’t been trampled in years.
at Tomasso’s old cannon.
If it still functioned,
he’d shoot himself into oblivion
and wash his hands of this whole
He wonders if Plum the Clown
ever feels like setting the place ablaze
and becoming a gypsy jazz guitarist.
Would Goliath the Strongman ever
run away with him and finally start
that professional wrestling promotion?
Or would they go down with the ship?
Couldn’t they all use something
Montgomery reaches into
his side table and takes four aspirin
and five Xanax.
It seems every night
“Entrance of the Gladiators”
starts playing, he looks at the empty seats
and is compelled to admit
the circus is dead.
It is no more.
He attempts to get out of bed,
still feeling like a monkey
is banging his head like a drum,
and he sees who he thinks
is Buffalo Bella,
the bearded lady sharp-shooter.
As her facial hair slowly flies away
he sees that it’s actually
the once-great Bobby Bee Beard.
Montgomery laughs softly,
wishing he could be those bees,
just flying away to nowhere in particular.
He knows the others want to as well –
the snake charmer, the sword swallower,
the unicyclist – (again, all one person).
Maybe they’re all just like Escapo,
wanting to break free from
the straitjacket, the chains,
the handcuffs, pack up the dancing bears,
the trained seals
and Lydia the Tattooed Lady
and flee to Puerto Rico,
where Montgomery saw a man
wrestle a grizzly bear many years ago.