Clowns

Clowns panhandle the air, turn over
applause like a boiling flannel,
inspect audiences as if a panel
of assassins assessed them. A clover,
lime-green, plastic, splits their titfer;
their mouths are like watermelons.
Sometimes they’re shifty, like felons
uncertain what they might be fit for.

Clowns do not blink, have talcum faces
and cherry tomato noses,
which glow as if trugs of fresh roses
were scenting them. Yanking their braces,
they are speechless, like grandfather snappers
miming their way through aquaria.
Monk-tonsured, but ears much hairier,
they go like the broken clappers.

Clowns live in caravans, always smoking
cheroots with their miniature spouses
who sew patches upon their best trousers.
They prefer to be inside, and soaking
children with sawdust. They do not weep
except in stories. Loose-limbed, acrobatic,
their sex lives are wholly ecstatic.
Clowns die in a doldrum of sleep.

From the book Rime Present