Sunday, February 27, 2011
The Hospital For Carnies
At the hospital for carnies,
The aerialist expresses that she only feels at ease when riding her unicycle across a tightrope
Fifty feet above the crowd.
In social situations,
Sitting on a cushioned wrought-iron chair on the cement patio of an outdoor cafe,
The world shifts with every incomprehensible word.
Yawning chasms open with every change of expression around her
Until she wonders why the passing traffic doesn't just slide to either end of the street,
Crazily piled and on fire.
She prefers faces from a distance,
Amazed and munching popcorn.
Injured clowns lie in beds lined up like file drawers,
Their temperatures and symptoms noted fastidiously in orderly notes written by efficient nurses.
At precise three-foot intervals on the walls of the ward, there are edifying posters--
(with your useless limbs)
(with your wasted bodies)
(so that you can leave uncommonly large shoes to fill)
The clowns weep, which disrupts their electrolytes--
They flicker like faulty bulbs.
To cheer them,
Children are brought in;
Most of the clowns improve, though the youngsters are of no provable value.
However, a few of the clowns exhibit pedophobia--
Their terror only weakens them further.
In the basement of the hospital for carnies is the morgue.
The sword swallower is lying on his back on a stainless steel table.
"I died out there tonight," he reports. His melancholy must be removed and make-up applied before the public can be allowed to see him again.
Carnies, like anyone else, are subject to microbe and mishap--
Someone must tend to them.
The horses with their beautiful plumes cannot do it,
Nor can the tigers, long since cowed by whip and chair.
The elephants would, but are distracted by peanuts and water buckets,
While chimpanzees care only for themselves and certain edibles, such as mango and papaya.
Enter the staff of the hospital for carnies--
"Primum non nocere," they recite in unison as an ambulance delivers a stilt walker on a long gurney.
He is propelled by paramedics through hoops of fire at the bay doors,
Followed by Tom Thumb, riding in an upside down top hat balanced on a seal's nose.
Complaining of a small headache,
Tom is rescued by the largesse of the doctors,
Who hang from rings like subway riders,
All of them double-jointed
And ever at the ready to treat and heal.
For One Shoot Sunday. Photo by jackAZ