Logically, I Know the Circus

exists to keep audiences
unsatisfied with
their mundane homelives, yet here
I am pacing my bedroom
and having serious
thoughts about trapeze
eyeliner, powdered
hands—and can you even
apply to be in a traveling act,
or do you need to be
discovered? I don’t want to be
famous, just remembered.
In high school I was
voted most likely to
ignore the demands
of men and gravity,
but it’s a difficult feat
when the two work together.
Like here, or
like in the flying trapeze:
man secures his hold,
gravity improves the swing.

I’m Not Faking My Astonishment, Honest

Looking out over the cliff, we’re overwhelmed
by a sky that seems to heap danger upon us. We
end up staring at a single white fluff in the air—
feather, fur, dandelion puff—we don’t care
to define it. The relief of having something
to focus our attention. At home, our patio furniture
unscrews itself under the usual sun. On this trip—
well, I’m not any sadder, I just have more space
for my sadness to fill. I don’t want to give
particulars. A woman huffing up the trail behind
us says to her hiking partner, It wasn’t my size,
but it was only 9 dollars. And now all I want
is to see what it is. The future refuses
to happen, so where else should I turn?

When I Tell My Husband I Miss the Sun, He Knows

what I really mean. He paints my name
across the floral bed sheet and ties the bottom corners
to my ankles. Then he paints another
for himself. We walk into town and play the shadow game,
saying Oh! I’m sorry for stepping on your
shadow! and Please be careful! My shadow is caught in the wheels
of your shopping cart. It's all very polite.
Our shadows get dirty just like anyone’s, so we take
them to the Laundromat—the one with
the 1996 Olympics themed pinball machine—
and watch our shadows warm
against each other. We bring the shadow game home
and (this is my favorite part) when we
stretch our shadows across the bed, we get so tangled
my husband grips his own wrist,
certain it’s my wrist, and kisses it.

Related Poems

Calaveras Section 2

Yes, families are supposed to be circuses.
Accept it, and accept that the acrobat’s taffy
of satin will twirl, and the bears in tutus will spin

over the exposes in the warped wood 
and cracks in the waxy linoleum, 
all the while your grandfather will yell

You no like it, go in the canyon and eat tomatoes.

Avoid his boots from under the Mercury Marquis.
Accept your aunt, the invisible lady, naked in the yard,
mustached and fat, fixing her car’s transmission 

by sanding moons on the body at night.
Listen to your cousin make beats
and let his sister teach you the “Dougie” 

while their mother juggles meth and late rent fees.
Accept it. There is knife throwing with your uncles. 
Children run the streets yelling while you drink soda

from a straw in a sandwich bag, and watch
morning jump through a flaming hoop
to avoid the insult of a whip. Afternoon

stands on her hind legs and opens wide, showing
missing teeth. Accept that night stays in his cage.
Remember all that you see. Memory is a fist to the eye.

of mongrelitude

a bed of roses itself is no bed of roses. Nobody wants an e-book, they would sooner leave you in the lake, a den of mouldering slime for your coffin. Everybody calling it a recession—theyr in a delusion. I am privy to these contradictory situations where I am told first the one and then the other bathroom is the wrong one. Madame, c’est là! and then o monsieur! je suis tromper! If I powder my nose in the tudes, if I choose to walk barefoot in the small hours . . . you yourself are a healing property you know. You came home from the fair only to join the circus its festal mood, to feast on frost. So one learns to make thir way amid the multitudes. And know bliss as a cowperson.

I know I am the small fry here. Whose harnassed thot drove winter aback, gos wrastlin thir daemon underground. Tho the stirrups brinked and tha mud was broke, I looked down to the rivulet between the tracks, and couldnt tell if what I saw was a turd or twisted rust metal. & the rats, rooting amid the black death and typhus. One comes out steppin, their eyes fallen on the shores, cognizant only to the trash they mucked around. Suddenly you and your neighbors thighs are pressed together, accidental camaraderie or blunt eroticism. And neither of you move away.

We race toward the mounds of gravel, the morning star met with its wanderer. 

Circus City

This is what life is really like.
This is what life is really like.
This is what life is really like every day.

—Gray Parrot, Vienna, 1943.

In the circus animals’ diary: “And all this was destroyed in ninety minutes.”
Makeshift forests flaming to high heavens, metal bent bars.
Siberian tigers, black panthers, jaguars, pumas,
bears, hyenas and wolves, and all the lion pit saved from burning
by the keepers’ own hands. By bullets. Only so much can be said.
Herbage will be scarce. Nature will gather like sleeping poppies
over the craters and lost species.
The African wart-hog will be cooked over an open fire in the garden.
One thinks of one’s restlessness, Faustian—
in the minutes-before-dawn dark
with the devil cry of black crows, the miry skull
of the half-eaten rabbit, then gold grimy hills
and light-making jewels and hand mirrors among the trees.
Why are you here? It dawns. All this will never be again.
The circus can’t be locked.