Poem # 13

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

POEM #13

Painted clown

Looks down

Red wig, red nose

Under yellowed lights

One flickers.

Laughter left the tent an hour ago

Is quiet now

Trips over shoes too big.

Uneaten popcorn

Scattered about

Discarded like dozens of tiny ticket stubs

Stepped on and unwanted

Once hot, buttered, and salty

And in a grease stained paper bag

Held in the hands of a young girl

Who ate until she had her fill,

Licked fingers,

Spilled it and did not care

Someone else would pick it up.

She left

Went home

Away from laughter

Away from clown shoes

And roaring lions

And flowers that spurted water

In faces of unsuspecting onlookers

Named Melanie or Jan or Teddy or Phil

Away from elephants

And bearded women

And strong men

And un-popped kernels of corn

Kicked beneath empty bleachers

That once embraced the asses of strangers.

Away from yellowed light bulbs

That flickered overhead

To a mother and father

Married since they were way too young

Grown older

More serious

Not much fun.

Her father a mechanic

With dirty nails and who put on ten pounds

In the past year

From eating doughnuts

With jelly.

His wife, her mother

Who bugs him about his weight,

And bathroom trim she wants painted

For two weeks now

He has not

But took out the trash


Last week

Her mother calls to her

From the bedroom where she and her husband are lying

The television is on

“Come in and say goodnight”


The girl ignores her mother

Pretends she doesn’t hear


“Come in and say goodnight”

She responds this time

Unable to ignore her mother

And having enough respect

To protect the older woman

From the knowledge

That she is embarrassed by them.

Her father snores deeply

He is a fattened lump

Beneath the busy pattern of a bed spread

Covered in cat hair,

Rising and falling with each snore.

“How was it?” her mother asks

“How was what?”

“The circus.”

“It was,” there is a momentary hesitation-

“Like a circus always is. It doesn’t change, not much anyway. Goodnight,”

She says quietly

Turns and closes the door

She hears through the door

“Goodnight dear”

Walks down the hallway

Faintly Illuminated only by bathroom light

Creeping out

At the end of the corridor

Her father’s snores

sneaking out

from under her parents’ bedroom door

Like curls of noisy smoke

They follow her.


Painted clown

Looks down

Red wig, red nose

Under yellowed lights

One flickers.

Submitted: August 07, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Robert Erich Rhodes. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



I've always thought there was nothing but bleakness beneath the rhinestones and greasepaint. This poem illustrates this so well, especially with the popcorn and ticket stubs.

Fri, August 7th, 2020 6:28pm


Thank you!

Sat, August 8th, 2020 1:32pm

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