Friday, September 18, 2015

Eddie and Sylvia

Eddie is fucked up again.
He is supposed to be mucking out the stalls, 
but there is a problem, the same problem as always--

The elephant shit looks like an old man's giant brown head,
the straw in it the hair, the shovel so handy!
He bashes at it with all his might, then runs for his wagon, and his pen.

Later, he is sorry.
Sylvia has him sitting in a trough, naked, red-eyed,
and she is tenderly washing away the last specks of dung from his face.
"You are a genius, Eddie," she says softly.
She wrings out the cloth, folds it neatly and lays it over the trough's edge.
"It's a brilliant story."

Eddie stays sober for a week.
Looking at the elephant shit, he sees Mount Olympus;
the straw in it is wings! Wings of the Immortals!
Thinking of his late mother, and of the women in whom he finds her kindness,
he throws down his shovel and runs for his wagon and his pen.

"Fuckin' ay, Eddie!" the crew boss roars, gesturing vaguely with his cigar.
"Can't you just shovel shit like I pay ya t'do?"
He can't.
He burns with shame and promises to do better,
but all the while he resents this cretin, this imbecile and his petty concerns!

Soon, Eddie is fucked up again.
Sylvia comes around to the animal trailers to try to soothe him.
Last time, she found him asleep in the tiger's cage;
she lifted his head from the cat's rough tongue and placed it upon her bosom.
This time, she finds him staring at elephant shit, his shovel forgotten.

"What is it, Eddie?" she asks, her voice betraying her worry.
"The birds!" he points, agitated and trembling.
Sure enough, crows are feasting on the droppings. 
He is still thinking about the Immortals. "Pallas! A bust of Pallas!" he cries.
"Eddie? Are you sure you're all right?"

But he is gone, off to his wagon and his pen.
This time, the crew boss will fire him, 
and the hopelessness of it all, the futility of Eddie's brilliance and her love,
sinks into her bones like sickness. 
"I'll be in the kitchen," she calls after his back, but she knows

by the time he comes looking for her she'll be gone.
_____ 

for Ella's very cool challenge at Real Toads. Combine a favorite poet with a circus setting.

14 comments:

neko case said...

My goodness, what a painfully truthful ending. The last five lines. ~Wow.

This is wonderful, deeply touching poetry.

Ella said...

I knew Poe was where you would tread~ Brilliance dazzles, as we see his spirited caged mind of menial work, while the goddess of wisdom entertain us and we all long for her embrace. Wow~ I want to watch AHS Freak Show all over again, now~ https://youtu.be/b_S4ToLRsws

Thank you, Shay, for taking me there~

Shadow said...

Harsh. True. The only option...

Susan said...

Hahaha! Brilliant! I can see it, every bit--even the reference to mother. And poor Sylvia. Ted never said, but I bet it was like that--his needs first. Course, Poe was brilliant--"The birds!" The circus is a perfect setting, shoveling shit and the tiger's mouth and all. I was divorced in 1975, but I must say, you even have my marriage down to a T.

hedgewitch said...

Hilarious as this is on one level, it really does show the agonies of the creative mind in a circus world full of elephant dung and drudgery--how hard we try to form something more lasting, more important from the dross and ridiculousness of it all, even if it is all our personal hallucination--the whole poem is a very successful metaphor, and the last few lines about Plath both cutting and somehow, sympathetic. Really a lot more going on here than first appears, Shay, and all of it fascinating and driven.

Lolamouse said...

This hit me in the gut. Loving an artist is never easy and sometimes for your own self-preservation, you must leave. Brilliant, as always.

neko case said...

AWESOME image, too.

TexWisGirl said...

you're a mess! you took us on another brilliant romp thru elephant dung! :)

Outlawyer said...

Hey Shay,

I agree with Hedge that this first seems rather like a romp, and funny, but that there is a lot of pathos here. How hard it is to make one's way in the quotidian world if your brain is somewhere farther out. I was reading about Poe in one of Oliver Sacks' books Hallucinations--and that he may have had some issue--I am not sure of it now, sorry --migraines maybe--that can cause a type of hallucinogenic aura-- can certainly imagine it here--k.

Mama Zen said...

This is brilliant, girl.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I knew you would slam this prompt out the ballpark, and you have not disappointed!

Nothing more beautiful on this earth than Jeff Buckley singing Corpus Christi.

Hannah said...

This is intense, Shay...I love the shape-shifting shit in this...intriguing indeed. :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This was a fabulous read. I resonate with the anxious Sylvia, trying to tether him to earth, an obviously hopeless cause. Loved this, Shay. Profundity in elephant dung. No one tells a tale better than you.

Cloudia said...

your contrary instincts yield great lines!




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