Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Monday, 23 January 2017


Circuses have been a source of inspiration for novelists such as Angela Carter and John Irvine, and the number of circus-themed novels currently in print is legion.
Film-makers, too, have discovered plenty of rich material beneath the Big Top.
Images from Tod Browning’s grotesque 1932 horror movie, Freaks, now a cult classic, have remained with me for almost half a century and, in more recent years, the renowned Italian film director, Frederico Fellini, made the circus a recurring theme in many of his films.
The beauty of the circus, from the point of view of a writer, is its cast of strongly-defined, almost stereotypical, characters: Ringmaster, Clown, Aerialist, Lion Tamer, Sword Swallower and so on.
I’ve written a few circus poems, mostly humorous, but here’s a short vignette that’s more of a love story.


Heels below chin,
a human ampersand,
she balances on slender hands
to watch the strongman boasting to three clowns
that he could bend an iron bar
to match the sort of complex knot
she twists her body into every day.

She knows it’s nonsense: she alone
can curl her body, rubber-limbed,
to flabbergast a gawking crowd
and only then
by stretching hourly till the muscles ache.

A bull-necked braggart, she decides,
but handsome in an ugly way.
She locks her right foot
underneath her chin, sets her left free
and whispers:  
Brute, untangle me.

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