The Circus

Trepidation tempered only by our anxious gait, as scent of cotton candy pulsed within the Oompa’s drifting plait. Down the leading path we walked, skipped and ran in anxious talk, giggling nervous hopes out loud until we spied the circus’ crowd!

Oh my! In exultation’s cry! Oh my!

Enormous posters on display, camels spitting, the grass and clay punished flat ‘neath giant feet of elephants who kindly greet the droves of folks that came from town to see the biggest show go down!

Once beyond the ticket booth and through the hallowed gate of truth, we donned our widest gaping jaws as through the side show alley saw three legged men and thumb sized girls, strong men juggling pigs in pearls, dancing bears and lions caged, pointing, gaping at every stage. Magicians sawing girls in two, sword swallowing flame breathing artists who defied the laws of man and earth, tickling us pink in circus mirth!

But as our curious peeling eyes turned forth to follow distant cries of “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!”, we spied the Big Top tent in swirls of colored flags and banners pitch, defining now our growing itch!

“The Big Top!” was all that we exclaimed as running toward its giant frame, imbibing in the musky scent exuding from the glowing tent, we swam through ether’s welcome call of dust made sweet through hay and all, in ancient canvas on tree sized rails held by ropes and enormous nails!

Oh my! Oh my! Or sole decry.

Inside this monolithic world parading horses and riders swirled, jugglers riding one wheeled bikes while clowns spat fire ‘pon tiny trikes. We spied some seats down toward the front, and running there like dogs in hunt, the band pronounced the dimming lights as we scooched in for more delights.

Spotlights on the magic ring, while rolling drums announced the scene upon the tall red coated man, top hat and beard, cane in his hand, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to our Circus world!”, on cue the band flared loud, Ring Master standing pleased and proud.

At perilous heights above us all, trapeze artists flew and called, till proudly elephants paraded in, danced and balanced balls and men, then lion tamers with whips and chairs scared us stiff in ogled stares, the jugglers came, the strong man too, accompanied by the band all through.

Then all came out to dance, perform, wowing us within the warm and savory scent that only breathes in circus tents that come and leave through smallest towns midst farmers’ fields, that only for one day reveal a whisper of the circus dream, casting memories, stupendous scenes.

Could it be that time stood still amid the musky scent and thrill that held us captive, glued in seats, with salty foods and colored sweets? For as we laughed our way back home, recalling every moment thrown, we felt we’d lived another time beneath the Big Top’s magic rhyme, and tho’ the spell was slowly cast, the moments spent went quickly past, and back into the day… each of us thinking, “one day we’ll run away, to the Circus!”

Courtesy of Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus


Filed under Circus, Memory, Poetry

17 responses to “The Circus

  1. I enjoyed the story of your experience at the circus. So many things to see and sense.

  2. Oh, wow, such a strong, driving rhythm through this, like horse’s hooves. I love the way you capture the excitement and thrill of the circus, and the way it teeters on the edge of chaos! Loved it.

  3. This is excellent in the way it pulls us back to a childhood excitement we would probably never feel again… there is a sadness in the things that are lost, in our awareness and maybe maybe that we never did run off

  4. you made me want to find a circus and ask if they’d have me, i had forgotten about magician’s until you wrote it, yes now I recall, doves out of silk handkerchiefs.

  5. To me the circus has always meant something grotesque, even sinister. But reading your account of it — juggling pigs in pearls, and all — I start to see (and smell and taste and hear) the wonder and awe you must have felt as a young boy in the center of that beautiful madness. I’d much rather read your poem than go to the actual thing: you’re too effective as an advertiser!

  6. Oh you’ve taken us there….and there’s a pace to your writing here that carries us to the scene and within the tent and hearing the sounds. You’ve literally swept us along with you!
    (Although I must admit, I have always hated the circus!)

    • Hi Lillian – Not a big fan of the circus either, but do enjoy the excitement and mystique it conjures up. Glad you enjoyed the sweeping away through the perspective of a 12 year old boy. 🙂 Thank you!

  7. I like you description and how you formatted this metrical poetry without line-breaks.

  8. Beverly Crawford

    What a wonderful, rollicking, headlong journey you took us on, tucking in rhymes in a rhythm that begs to be read aloud, taking us back to the time we weren’t aware of the harsh reality behind the scenes. Bravo!

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