RINGLING


The argument
one-upped your one-man-show,
left hand wrestling
the right, declaring
I’d be sorry one day.
Swallowing chicken heads whole
you’ve weaned yourself of taste
at the center of the side show.
I never took a turn.
My job was to relieve
customers of the ghosts
that spoiled a pristine aura.
My x-ray vision
illuminated dead relatives,
lurking behind the living.
They’d trust me, just thrilled
to be noticed. I’d lure
spirits close then carve
them out of this world
with an ivory pocket knife.
I keep their glowing orbs
in mason jars,
which sold for four dollars.
The argument was about
whether this was fair.
I’m sorry I had to see
your coat of tar and chicken feathers.
People paid for this privilege.
I shot myself
out of a cannon to lighten the mood,
grew a beard
and the dog wouldn’t stop barking
at me. Your need
to distinguish yourself
from all the men
who tattooed my name
into their flesh ruined us.
The argument was
our interpretative walk.