Three Ring Circus
The clown isn’t funny anymore:
the face-paint and fright wig
have seen to that – the leering
smear of orange. Now there are clowns
on the streets of every major city
and some have knives and none smile
and balloons aren’t their stock-in-trade.
The woman on the flying trapeze
isn’t so dazzling now; her manoeuvres
have become conservative, her eye
at all times on the safety net.
Her husband, the former circus master,
applauds from a seat in the shadows:
the sound of one platitude echoing.
The ticket price is ruinous. Entry
depends on photo ID. Tawdry bunting
is watermarked with messages
from both their sponsors. The strongmen
wear uniform free of insignia. Sit quietly.
Applaud when you’re told. The human
cannonball has been trained on the crowd.
Neil Fulwood is the author of media studies books The Films of Sam Peckinpah and the co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of the anthology More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe. His debut poetry collection, No Avoiding It, is forthcoming from Shoestring Press in 2017.