Tag Archives: circus

Twine With No Twist

Twine With No Twist

A masked ball in Venice.
No, I don’t want to go.
I don’t like bewilderment, deception,
the idea that life’s a carnival show.

A travelling circus.
No, not with lions and elephants
wheeled in cages from rough town to rough town.
It would make me sadder than a droop mouthed clown.

But why name the places I don’t want to be,
the sights I don’t want to see?
If you cannot resist you can make your own list.

I walked by a garden and saw a stout tree.
No storm wind could blow it down.
If I were an owl I’d hoot in its branches,
my feathers black speckled brown.

A natural stone bridge spans a gorge.
Far below it flows a river.
I could be brave and live up there in a cave,
but even in my white wool coat in winter
I fear I’d still shiver.

If I name the places where I want to be,
the sights that I’d like to see,
it would be a long list notched on twine with no twist.

Roy Rogers was a clean cowboy,
he made his silver six shooters shine
before he walked into the saloon
to stand at the bar
to the sound of a honky-tonk piano tune.
Every grubby cow poke
could see he was no joke
but the man who put the robbers in jail.
Behind his white tooth smile,
he had a brain that no one could figure,
but the sheriff was glad when he rode into town
with his guitar and his faithful horse Trigger.

That last verse may have surprised you,
don’t let us pretend.
It was summoned by a memory
I came to tag on the end.


Family Album

Family Album

Great, great uncle Jerome,
Victorian trapeze artist,
once known from London to Rome,
was quite regally tall,
not stocky, short, like a gnome,
proud of his full walrus moustache,
wherever the show moved was his home.
Great, great aunt Hilda
thought he looked splendid
in his brown and cream striped bathing costume.
Sat in her deck chair,
she watched him paddle in the sea,
bare footed, he kicked through the foam.
And in all the photographs that survive,
you can tell how glad they were to be alive.
There’s one of Hilda as the Jaunty Juggler,
such was her circus act,
another of her as the assistant to a lion tamer.
“Never was scared of that big toothed cat,”
she wrote in pencil as a caption.
“And that’s a fact.”
“Jerome takes his work too seriously,”
in conversation she would often add.
“When we took the show to Paris,
I was chased by every bounder
and every cad,
but Jerome was so busy,
practising his jumps and swings,
he did not see the unwelcome high jinks
negligence sometimes brings.”
There’s one of Jerome
on a penny farthing bicycle,
not long after he retired,
and one of him and Hilda
and the six children that they sired.
Photographs that make me laugh and cry,
as if I were drunk on rum,
all neatly glued together
in one fat family album.