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A Wandering Troupe (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: I missed a circus that went through my town, so I wrote about one instead. Hope you enjoy their performance.]

Among ever-shifting dreamscape pathways

     travels a chain of interlocking caravans

          akin to a serpent through shadowy undergrowth

                                with sides covered in posters

                                 that advertise attractions

                                             such as tightropes

                                                           flaming hoops

                                                   and magic acts

                                                         all illuminated by oversized fireflies

Nightmares pull the process forward—

      two sturdy      dark stallions whose manes flicker

                                                                          and crackle

                while a willowy figure

                               dressed in a lavender cloak and top hat

                                          holds onto their leads

They venture deep into a mind

             there to settle into a glade        and begin their subtle mischief

Music entices the dreamer             like a magic spell

              from normal visions into a festival filled with games

                                                                                  and unusual characters

                                                                                        whose visages change


                               then soon…

                                                     …to an enormous     striped      tent…

         …where the guest                        will find a special seat reserved

                                           Just for them

                      while the lavender-cloaked figure reveals herself

                                      as the Ringleader

She summons forth one performer             after another

             with the flick of a wrist           and a ruby-headed cane

                            personalized                  to fit the audience

       …well-known friends might dance              high up on the tightrope

                                   …or a mustached uncle might suddenly

                                                    gain the ability to train creatures—

                                                            with a strange resemblance to childhood plushies

                         …before the Ringleader will invite the dreamer into the ring

                                                         to assist in various magic tricks

                                                                   and ride upon the shoulders of performers

                                                                            until dawn approaches

                                                                                     to drive the troupe away

Good-hearted souls reflect them

                 as peculiar       but pleasant entertainers

                                    with sweet visions among their antics

                        …but wicked minds                will experience only twisted tidings

                                           from monstrous beings

                                                                 forgotten in the darkness

                                                                             yet remembered in frayed nerves

                                                                                                 long afterwards

In each case

          they remain a single night                 before they are off again—

                         passing wanderers who whisper to their audiences,

                                   “May the circus live on

                                                           inside of you always.”


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