Circus Reject

No matter how hard you work at your talent or how diligently you look for a job, there’s still a chance that no circus will want you.
—Sabah Karimi, “How to Join a Circus,”

What can you do, he asks.
I can recite pi, I tell him,
to one thousand places.
Blindfold me — I can find
& identify flying objects
better than a bat. I don’t
merely eat fire; I excrete it.
I can go for years without sleep.
But he only wants to know
how much I drink — as if
I ran away from my life
& came all this way just
to pound stakes & shovel
elephant dung like some
lousy roustabout. Your loss,
I say to his back, & shuffle
back to the bus stop in
my big clown shoes, blisters
already rising on my tentacles.


For the Big Tent Poetry prompt. Other responses are here.

18 Replies to “Circus Reject”

  1. I love that your form is so compact, especially with so many turns in the short lines. I especially like the line about excreting fire.

    Great take on the prompt!

  2. i never thought of the circus rejects before. what a great idea! the freak that the freaks don’t want. though i do bet there’d be a long line for the tent featuring “flaming excrement.” it’s a real shame we don’t have room for a 4th circle @ BTP — it’s a perfect compliment to the poetry scene. :)

  3. Someone would have to pay me to sit through the pi recitation, if not for those really cool tancles.

    Pity the dung-shovelling peg-pounding roustabout.

  4. Marvelous, it starts at the epigraph and comes to fruit with the tentacles.

    And this from a poet who doesn’t normally write to prompts. Thanks for such a witty and smart poem (and poignant — I really felt for the ‘fellow’), and for playing along!

  5. Thanks for all the comments! I don’t know how often I’ll be writing to Big Tent Poetry prompts, but I did want another excuse to link to the site since it’s just getting off the ground, and needs as many inbound links as possible to help its Google page rank and such. Plus, I mean, how often would I get a chance to write about a sad clown of a space alien? Glad you all had as much fun reading as I did writing it.

  6. I like the idea of him selling himself on being able to go years without sleep as if it could be an act. The longest show on earth!

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