Five Years Old, First Circus
Loud, it was and smelled like
popcorn, cotton candy, candy, cigars, and
poop, but amazing all at the same time.
When you’re five, you like everything, almost.
Two men, the daredevil flying trapeze artists.
Two glittery women, dangling from ropes with their teeth.
Clowns, slipspilling silly – but scary:
Chalk faces; crayoned, exaggerated expressions.
I hid my face when they came near.
Boss in fancy suit and spotlight and mic.
Dogs jumping hoop after hoops like
they were hopping on and off a skillet.
Treats were trash, but I stashed an apple.
Kid next to me threw up on her mom, red, white, and blue.
Cherry soda, vanilla ice cream, and Lik-M-Aid.
After the show, Dad showed he had clout. Round back,
behind the tent, an amazing surprise:
A baby elephant, sporting a small seat.
Dad lifted me up and
I and only I was allowed to ride Burma,
the pride of the Lions Club Circus.
To feel her soft, upturned ears, lay my head down
upon her warm neck. I sang as she swayed beneath
my skinned-knee skinny legs.
That was the first time I ever connected
with someone who’d traveled so far,
halfway across the world, just for me.
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
I’m sure other children got rides later, but I was so enthralled and focused that I didn’t notice. I thought Dad was king of the world that day.
OK, you all know I have a major phobia about clowns, with the notable exception being my friend Monica, whose character Imagin is simply pure and sweet. Maybe it’s because she is a woman – as much as I knew what “drag queens” were when I was quite small, men who paste it on for little kids scare the poop out of me. If anyone out there is a clown, let me know – you may well help me past my phobia!
Imaginary Garden with Real Toads’ “Kay in Alberta” presented us with a challenge that, thank the Lord, has NOTHING to do with St. Paddy’s Day… I also laid this on the shelf at the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. I’m probably more Irish than most of my neighbors, so I say, let the German-American and Polish-American and African-American and other Hyphenated-Americans drink green beer and barf in the street. Most of my Irish-American friends reserve that behavior for the other 364 dasy a year – and they are always prepared in the event of hangovers of nausea! Happy Kermit Day, Amy
For Poetic Asides’ prompt, Normal, I opted to tell it like I see it. As on my haven, Poetic Asides. Amy
Normal is the everyday stuff
Normal is eating McDonald’s for breakfast
and Arby’s for lunch and Pizza Hut for dinner
Normal is going to work at a job you hate
Normal is stopping off for a couple-five drinks
to cool off from the job you hate
Normal is shlepping home and sitting in front of
the TV computer IPad video game
Normal is shopping for crap from China
that used to be made by your neighbor whose job
was outsourced, and he’s about to exhaust his unemployment
Normal is watching silk-suited fresh-water sharks
swimming in the the DC pool on Avenue K
as they rape the economy and hold the future ransom to
a whim, a personal profit, a new McMansion
Normal is ignoring homeless Americans begging
Normal is meth-addict soccer moms, the super-achievers
Normal is Asian kids winning spelling bees and science fairs,
but children of Anglos winning legacy admissions to Ivy League schools
Normal is Black kids, Hispanic kids, all those “little brown ones”
sentenced to the street or “would you like fries with that”
or being coerced into developing a taste for Afghanistan sand
Normal is no longer single moms, but two parents
kissing hello/goodbye in the hall as one goes to sleep
and the other goes to work at WalMart with no health benefits
Normal is skipping worship to work a crossword puzzle or to
see your kids’ soccer games or whatever else the school scheduled
for Sunday morning, thank God Blue Laws were repealed
Normal is one appendectomy in a 14-year-old ends up
with the whole family living in a camper or a car
Normal is abnormal.
The American Dream is no longer the norm.
The American Nightmare has taken charge.
© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil