CIRCUS (a dance/word poem)


my tiny hand
attached to my father's
we entered the Big Tent
it is so exciting
the Circus band is playing
Funny clowns and pretty ladies
riding elephants
One clown blows a toy trumpet
hold your breath


falling, maybe falling.......
your head back, eyes look up, see..
beneath the tent top, a wire
stretched from pole to pole
standing upon the wire
a marble statue
moves - not a statue, a man
in white tights,
takes a step
hold your breath
NOW! Ohhhhhh!
he wobbles, one ballet slipper leaves
the wire
his arms move, graceful
balancing, the wobble recedes
slowly as a tiny wave,
and then he RUNS
across the wire and I stop
holding my breath


walking down an unknown street
a large mansion, many
wide stairways, chandeliers
Large halls and rooms off rooms.
I stand below
as he runs up the stairway
in his street-life invisible
moving, swift, graceful
a ballet dancer, or
basketball player, maybe
accomplished robber
I stand still

is my father's hand
mine has grown small,
waits to be held.

Up the wide stairs,
at the top, a laughing pretty woman
draws my friend into the room as if for
innocent mischief


My little hand
holds peanuts
the trunk swoops down
(I'm not frightened)
takes the peanut from my hand
elephants love their babies and
grieve when their relatives die,
majestically big and sweet as pie
no wonder I love them!!

The clown in the brightest
red, white and blue(what a sad mouth! ) suddenly,
stands in front of me.
Everyone is looking at ME, I close my eyes,
and I don't like it
then he put a candied apple in my hand, I smile


In the lower hall,
a large round hall, I stand helpless
my grown up hand growing small,
where is my father?
where is the circus?

a young woman comes
gently touching my arm
It's all in my diary, I tell her,’
how I can't win.
what he wants,
What he loves, what he adores!
to be high, high, high!

some bodies don't feel right
except when chemically altered,
we don't know ,
perhaps a misplaced gene?

I waited
he came spinning down the staircase,
feet not touching the steps
body at strange angles,
floating in space
leaning far to one side,
defying gravity, then dancing,
a purple flush on his bare arm
sleeves rolled up
the heroin interacting with the ballet of martial arts
whirling, tip toe
into the street, fast!

I could only watch,
Watch in horror!
as across the street
on the corner, suddenly,
climbing the telephone pole
seconds passed
"I don't want to see him die
in front of me."

My mouth opened
I couldn't scream!

stared, as this small graceful figure,
racing magically, every movement perfect,
fast like a lightning streak
feet overconfident
or wanting death?
I didn't know which
So fast
terrifying yet fascinating
watching a graceful
streak of lightning
sparks flying and the figure reached
a second pole,
he is FALLING!!!!!!!!

CALL THE POLICE! was it my voice?
Ca caw caw al the po lice the po lice....
I open my mouth
no sound comes out
one hand on the wire
tumbling, scrambling


Down the telephone pole (I'm relieved)
No! No!
Like a whirlwind, a madman
He’s off again, running

Beginning all over again
tumbling, scrambling
I gasp in horror!
And then



No one
is holding my hand
there is no big tent
no graceful elephant trunk

or an old fashioned dream?
a piece of fiction
to amuse my sleep?

A dream or a ride on the spiritual inner net
graphic art, a
small graceful figure,
movement perfect
fast like a lightning streak
or wanting death!
I didn’t know which,
horrifiying/ fascinating/fast
a graceful streak of lightning
electric sparks flying,
reaching a second pole, one hand
grasping the line


Is this dream only fiction?
A story to amuse my sleep, or, have I tapped the thread
that connects us all
even in death
Am I chosen to carry the message, am I to
dress as the hummingbird
fly through an open window
carrying in my beak the dream,
the warning.

Am I my brother's keeper?
did I ask this question:

"Was I put on this earth
to guard him, to wrap blankets and towels
in the wintertime around his alabaster
sculptures which had no home but the
backyard and it’s elements of rain and cold
Was I put here to protect his art?
As did Rodin’s wife? Protect the adulterous

But in fact, I am no longer the guardian of his art
Nor the keeper of his soul, but a messenger,
delivering in my beak, a poem,
coming in through an open window dressed
as the messenger of good, the hummingbird.
In his culture, a good omen.
Do not ignore a bird, they will say
in Columbia,
who flies through an open window.

The man with outstretched arm,
swollen, blue arm, intercepted the poem
gently, with him it was art above all!
while the other hand appeared to dangle as
from a high wire,
I was not surprised when he said,
"The poem pleases me, in and of itself,
never mind that the subject is me! And my

My hand grows small again
Everyone is looking at ME, I close my eyes,
and don't like it.....then he(the clown)
put a candied apple in my hand, I smile

© Dorothy Jesse Beagle

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Last modified February 28, 2002