Wednesday, July 5th 1944
The kids were out windows
shimmied down drainspouts
hurled down alleyways
since today was the day
the circus train rolled into town.
No music played
– war trains caused delays
but no war talk today, boys. No time
because look at that we’re late.
Late is unlucky and it’s all good news these days anyway.
The profession demands professionals
The circus parade always rolls
from railyard into town.
A real bully circus
with only a few of the town’s old hens
talking sideways about young circus men
who weren’t strewn limbless on the beaches
but instead juggled bright red pins
as they marched in clown suits
to bully circus music
Thursday July 6th 1944
The Flying Wallendas
had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
When the band played Stars and Stripes Forever.
circus people knew it meant danger, panic
looked around, and soon spotted the licks
of fire racing up the big top
canvas waxed with two tons of paraffin,
a rain of flaming teardrops
bombing the crowd, burning them alive
making them run ablaze through the sawdust
screaming horror, setting all alight
as the fire raced up the greased walls,
roaring as the gaily striped tent
collapsed on them, pressed them to coals
Photographers on their soft stateside duty
snapped clowns with firebuckets
as the big top cindered down in just eight minutes
the ashy dead a harbinger
of cities yet to burn