Clowning around by J. Archer Avary

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

he is tired and fat

bored of the high-wire act

but still he must perform

and like an elephant

he fears most the bull-hook


in the backroom

he transforms himself

with pore-clogging greasepaint

(an occupational hazard)

he smears it thick around the lips

fake smile taking shape


wistful for the old days

he remembers cities

from Baghdad to Baraboo

when there used to be honour

in the hierarchy of clowns

every circus needed a ringleader

but now the profession

is dominated

by a bunch of bozos


he feels his age in the bruises

the aching joints

he knows the act has grown stale

he no longer expects applause

the little kids scream

bigger ones throw peanuts


but the show must go on

he laces up his oversized shoes

puts on his big red nose

the polka-dot bowtie


he blames the media

Stephen King’s Pennywise

and John Wayne Gacy

he never meant

to scare anyone’s children

J. Archer Avary (he/him) is a former TV weatherman and founder of Sledgehammer Lit. His debut novella ‘The Dog Sitter’ is forthcoming in July via Daily Drunk Press. He lives on a tiny island in the English Channel with his wife, and has been told he makes a mean chili. Twitter: @j_archer_avary