Friday, March 7, 2014

If A Real Clown Appeared








If a real clown appeared at the edges


of the fair, silly coat with golden buttons,

floppy hat and shoes, shiny hair and cut

off jeans, would you laugh and stay or

run away or hide beneath a circus truck

pretending not too see? A midget pony

or juggler would be easier to explain,

you think. But, there’s nothing funny about

a girl clown, is there? And, if this she-clown

wore white gloves and hoisted a Japanese

parasol and you realized she had something

pressing to say, would you come and listen

or hunker in disgust? My friend recognized her

urgency, saw a woman out of context, random

and wearing a rope and painted frown,

eyes in permanent surprise. This clown said

she was looking for a home, a bed where

she could lie, a sink to wash her garish face,

and wondered what she’d find. Would you

give her these? Would you? Would you, like

my friend, smile and offer a hand? And, if you

were this clown, when you felt hesitation

in his grip, would you make a silly face, a parody

of comic art, and then depart or what? It turned

out right. I saw them walking in the park, him

leaning on a baby stroller, her twisting pink balloon 

pups for kids, meaning her performance art.


Photo: 1980, Dixon CA Mayfair. For Davis Enterprise, first-person feature on becoming a circus clown. Poem inspired by Stephen Dunn's poem "If A Clown," The New Yorker, Aug. 24, 2009.