Murder at the Circus


Behind the big top, a dead man gathers snow
His memories leak into dirty, wet sugar
A cheer goes up from a close faraway
On break, between trees, a clown lights a cigar

Across air as sharp as Christmas-yet-to-come
A song starts to play and drift like black dragonflies
Though it might have been born a thousand years ago
Tonight it's only played to warm a cold band's eyes

The band's flickering fire is familiar
To the serious entertainers with the worn-out shoes
Who sail on, its lighthouse glow guiding them,
To their drink and their sleep and their dues

The unseen murdered’s fingers are crooked but
There’s no last message, no thought of retribution
Only as if a gentle tug on the ends of things
Is blood and breath's final execution

Roll up!



'Send in the clown'
Sighs the Ringmaster

Into the circling spotlight stumbles
A painted old man with glistening eyes
The smallest fish in the Marianas Trench

Outside, the meat wagon struggles
Across mudcastle tracks of now sleeping trucks
And the body in the back bounces gently on a bench

Even in there you could hear the laughter
That is whirling around the clown
Like a dream you’d have in a tornado

Policemen wait patiently offstage
Pinched bone faces ghouled between
Their tall black hats and their long black cloaks

'When all the hopes of your friends aren't enough to get you what you want…'
Cries the Ringmaster




The  only thing left
In the clown’s cold tent
Is a mini-horse snuffling in the corner

Until The Greatest Trapeze puts her head inside
The only two friends of the locked-up clown
Are reunited for the first time since that

Night of cannons, swords & rain
When a face of running make-up
Held on to the skin of their teeth

The acrobat leaves, the mini-horse follows
And somewhere someone with a naked face
Hears approaching footsteps in his cavernous heart



J.E.A. Wallace used to be a Londoner, and now calls Manhattan his home thanks to a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on a stoop at 3am. His poems have been published on both sides of the Atlantic in 'The Write Place At The Write Time', 'Brand' and 'BlankPages' among others.

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