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The Last Circus

Note: Barnam and Bailey announced today that they are closing their circus after more than one hundred years of touring and performing

I am five years old
sitting in wiggly anticipation
under the circus bigtop
Barnum and Bailey
has come to Sheridan, Wyoming

The crowd is a hot smear
of Saturday afternoon faces
The room smells of animal dung
and buttered popcorn.

I have the surprisingly intimate feeling
of being let in on a secret —
there is a world where the rules
are suspended, where people fly
and elephants walk on their hind legs
where women wear spangled
skin-tight suits and swing on swing sets
the size of tall buildings

where people are sawn in half
and then reassembled
where the polar axis shifts
and time runs in a bright circle
with a man standing on its back with a whip

Of course, I had no way of knowing
the conjuring has a cost. And like a broken
foreign correspondent, I have wandered ever since
looking for what is conjured
and what is constant

The Writhing Under the Skin

once a friend came to my house
lets lick the razor today, he said
you can be in this world but not of it
it does not matter if one poet goes missing
when we were kids he and I used to play marbles
the aggies and steelies and blue eyes
jingling in your pocket like little bubbles of money
my friend drowned one day while fishing
he drank too much and fell out of the boat
once I saw him on his bicycle in the sky
he was paper thin and had tiny window blinds
hanging around his head and ears
his teeth were cracked by lightning
there is a train in a ravine where no one goes, he said
if you go there you can hear the train’s thoughts
intertwined with mine
my friend used to say the math
that describes our days has its own symbols
that vibrate like candied light waves
but they never tell you if you should lick the razor today or not

Making Sorrows Disappear 

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank 
“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit. ” –Anne Frank

A Raindrop’s Joy

For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river

–Ghalib, eighteenth-century Urdu poet