Big Top
The elephants are drunk
and dancing on rolling balls,
while the lion tamer trains
his lazy eye to loop-de-loop
around the buzz above the noise;

we are the audience,
or the performers,
or the caged animals shifting
nervously in our crates.

We don't make sense with
so much space above us, so
much noise in the chewing of
popcorn, or the melting of butter,
none of it belongs to us,

none of it saves us
from the severity, but we ride
along the boxcars, like latchkey kids
too kind-hearted to not reach
our hands into the lobster tanks when asked;

too well-planed
to except the curves
of the sky,

we used to whisper in the shadow of
the big top as it toppled on the loose
ends of another day; used to perform
for each other, to please the other,
mimic freak shows for fun, while
the gum in our mouths turned to tonsil,
and the tongue of each town drifted away
inside out stomachs.

We ate fate,
fainting in the heat of it.