Big Top

The clown’s shock-haired wig and face-split grin,
jazz hands, silly walk, meaningless mumble:
this is the measure of the state we’re in.

The magician’s hat’s empty of bunting,
rabbits or doves. His exit a stumble,
he’s replaced. The clown with the face-split grin

flings balls in the air, sets plates in a spin,
lets them crash down in a graceless jumble.
This is the measure of the state we’re in,

and the one sign of any reaction
as the crowd’s discord builds in a rumble
is the clown’s thumbs-up and his face-split grin.

The lion-tamer’s whip and chair go flying,
big cat lunging as he takes a tumble:
this is the measure of the state we’re in.

The puffed-up strongman, as the tent falls in,
strikes the pose of the never-been-humble.
the clown’s shock-haired wig and face-split grin
gives us the measure of the state we’re in.

Neil Fulwood has published two collections with Shoestring Press, "No Avoiding It" and "Can’t Take Me Anywhere", with a third - "Service Cancelled" - due out in June 2021. He lives and works in Nottingham. Read other articles by Neil.