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

Cowgirl Connie’s

bareback riding acrobatics

with Henry the Horse,

always smoothly and

elegantly performed

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.”

Punchy then

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.


Montgomery stares

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

completely different?


Montgomery reaches into

his side table and takes four aspirin

and five Xanax.

It seems every night

when Fucik’s

“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.

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