You can keep your clowns…

those unfunny comics
with their distorted faces
and noisy antics,
brightly-coloured anarchists.

No more animals in the ring!
Uncage the wild and suffering
bears and lions, the chimpanzees
at infinite human tea parties.

Give me the sparkles
of lights in the darkness,
knife-throw and fire-eatery,
magic and mystery,

sequins and grace,
balance and flight
of trapeze and tight-
rope every night.

Kim M. Russell, 18th September 2018

Image result for Cirque du Soleil trapeze acrobats and fire eaters
Image found on Pinterest

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Come to the Circus! also linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Tuesday Platform

This week Sarah is our ringmaster and our theme is the circus! She tells us that she has only been to one circus – a small, touring affair, with no animal acts – just people doing amazing things, and yet she’s read many books featuring circuses, seen so many images, and films, and acts on the TV, that she knows what a circus should be, what it could be – what it is.

Sarah says that there are lots of novels set in the circus, but little in the way of poetry, and certainly not poetry for adults, although she found an example, ‘The Bells’ by Anne Sexton,  which is why we are redressing the balance and writing poems about the circus – the sequins, the sawdust, the pain, the triumph, the flight of the trapeze artist, the antics of the clown.

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59 thoughts on “You can keep your clowns…

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I just got back from the meeting, which was also a bit of a circus! I’m going to bed now, so I’ll have to read and comment in the morning. I’m looking forward to it. 😊

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  1. Much more humane type of circus, yours, Kim. I’ve only been to one. We were given free tickets to a Russian circus and took our two year old. She did what she always did, fell asleep under the seat after about ten minutes and we left at half time. There was a plate spinner who lost all his plates and the audience gave him a standing ovation which was nice, but I bet he was for the high jump after the show.

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  2. Fear of clowns or comparison to politicians can dampen ones enthusiasm for sure. The notion that animals in the zoo & circus were victims of cruelty never occurred to me as a kid. I was just happy to view them up close.

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  3. Oh, this is so well done. I am mostly wondering about the image of clowns as “brightly-colored anarchists”.
    Yes, indeed, every circus is better without exploitation of animals. Not to forget that all the artists — ropewalkers, trapezists, et al historically were treated poorly. I think individual artistry should be promoted instead of an institution with masters governing a troop of the labor force.

    I really like your vision. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much, Anmol, and for the reminder that artists were treated poorly. I remember the film Trapeze with Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollabrigida. My favourite circus is Cirque du Soleil.

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  4. Oh yes, take away the eerie clowns and poor animals made to perform and the circus could be appreciated more. Trapeze artists and tightrope walkers are definitely entertaining and so talented…indeed a joy to watch. Hating crowds I rather still watch from my tv screen…lol

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  5. the circus holds such conflicting thoughts and memories, I have good ones, back then i was too young to understand animal cruelty and the circus never had many animal acts as it traveled a long way to get to us, I loved those that we did see, they seemed happy, well to me at that time.

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  6. I agree! Was so glad when they took the elephants out of the ring….and the movement to more cirque de soleil type extravaganzas. Interesting and true: I actually had an uncle who, every time my aunt had a baby, he literally ran away to the circus! He always came back….but it was expected behavior evidently! That was in the 1940s.

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  7. So many things about a circus I don’t like, in theory. The ones I’ve gone to, in real life, weren’t nearly as bad as my preconceived notions. I like acrobats but also worry: sometimes they get only one mistake.

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