--Title taken from the song Carnival Justice by Hannah Fury
The whipping boy is an elephant. Not a boy
but a bull, the rider of thunder – Could have been
grey-born master of terrain. Now look at the indignity.
Ten blondes atop, the big top like perpetual motion, swirled
red and blue. The patriotic notion: servitude.
Here in the cotton candy, rats leave droppings, brown
footprints in hotdog buns wiped
clean by the trapeze artist’s son. He loves to run circles
beside the horses, sparkle against manes. A man could
frame a son or a daughter
for red hot stardom. You’re wondering about the star. You know,
the woman in nude leotard and bushy contraption – shoot-
ing out of canons, the chimpanzee queen. In the light, a tuxedo-
clad Romeo recounts nightly transactions:
head into mouth; body into cavity; shooting
sterile laughter. Watch him now. First, the fire-breathing,
now the monster
wearing a costume to make children smile. But the bottle
in his back pocket could make them smile.
Now we come to the animals. Everyone loves
the animals. How
they crave and creep along the circle. Tonight,
every night. Back and forth. Back and again.
The girl in the front row
is the first to notice the elephant shift.
The lion’s paw
on the power
supply. The poodles strike
the match, lock
The rest take their places as
The carny raises the curtain,
Ladies and gentlemen.