“The Circus of Inconsolable Loss” by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Wendy Taylor Carlisle


There is only one ring for those sweating horses with the preternaturally
flat backs and the fat smooth rumps from which ladies
                                                                      in stained tights vault onto the sawdust
                                                                                                              or another horse.

Only one ring for the hung-over clowns and their Volkswagen,
a car so old it must be pushed into the one ring
        which is also the one for the acrobats and the tigers and contortionists
                                                                         and dogs that walk on their hind legs,

then stop to scratch their necks, itchy under spangled ruffs. Above them
wire walkers and trapeze guys swing,
                                                                 mayfly-graceful. Under them the one ring
                                               reminds the audience to celebrate, each in their own

constrained and special way,
the emptiness they’ve come to in the spaces where other rings should be.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009
Tribute to the Sonnet


Wendy Taylor Carlisle: “This poem was a gift from the circus backyard in my head where a population of freaks and wire walkers, butchers and roustabouts, folks who work animals, a ringmaster and Tom Thumb are careful to keep the elephant’s trunk up for the photograph, don’t whistle in the dressing room and never look back when marching in a parade. The poem arrived about a year ago, the form later. I write poetry because I can’t help it. Given the choice, I’d be a magician, a jockey, or a diamond cutter.” (web)

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