Discussion in 'Member Writing Forum' started by RJM, Jan 28, 2022.

  1. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Nov 26, 2016
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    I hope no-one minds I've moved this thread here from the poetry forum. It seems more suited here ...
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2022
  2. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Nov 26, 2016
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    From 2011

    The title is MURPHY
    or it could be
    The Clown

    The last knife thunks into the board
    Between her shoulder and her jaw
    She steps away to loud applause
    Knives trace her outline on the wood

    She quickly moves beneath the crowd
    They test the blindfold, try it on
    They turn it over, check for holes
    She asks someone to bring it down

    She takes his arm and leads him out
    Into the middle of the ring
    To where the knife-thrower allows
    The volunteer to blindfold him

    She stands again ten yards away
    Within the pattern of the knives
    Parting her legs deliberately
    To leave a gap between her thighs

    The knife-thrower is dressed in black
    The leather mask around his eyes
    Tossing from hand to hand an axe
    The metal glinting under lights

    A single drum begins to roll
    A sudden blur, a cobra strike
    A spinning lightning bolt of steel
    Slams into wood between soft thighs

    The crowd erupts in wild applause
    He pulls the mask off, throws it down
    He holds his hand out to the girl
    And hand in hand they take a bow

    They start to exit arm in arm
    But do they leave?
    No, they cannot
    For now a frantic little clown
    Jumps up and down in front of them
    Gesticulating with a boot

    It’s broken, see?
    The sole hangs loose
    He’s tired of walking like a duck
    It makes him fall, it trips him up
    He flaps the boot around: quack, quack
    It begs – no -- it demands the chop

    Falling over, spilling paint
    Custard pies mashed in his face
    Eggs are never safe with him
    Life isn’t easy for a clown

    Now work is over for the day
    He wipes the grease paint off his face
    And stores his working kit away
    Nose in the nose drawer, wig in place

    The night is indigo and warm
    The big-top empty, quiet and dark
    The chimps and tigers in their stalls
    The side-amusement stands all locked

    The honest mirror now reveals
    The face behind the silly mask
    A stubble chin, dark, clever eyes
    A firm, uncompromising mouth

    He looks alright when sitting down
    Bit of a gut, strong hands and arms
    A little overweight perhaps
    But not too bad for sixty-one

    A person’s legs are half his height
    But he’s proportioned differently
    The problem is that when he stands
    His feet are where his knees should be

    His mobile home is custom built
    To suit somebody of his size
    The music system cost a lot
    In fact, he’s rather proud of it

    He rubs his jaw, decides to shave
    It’s Friday night, it’s half-past-ten
    A dwarf, no longer middle-aged
    He spins The Dark Side of the Moon

    Within the darkness of the void
    A thudding heartbeat gathers force
    A haunting scream of madness born
    Into the madness of the world

    He takes a drive into the town
    To him, by now, they’re all alike
    He finds a bar that looks ok
    He parks the van and goes inside

    They’re curious, it’s natural
    The lowered heads, the sudden quiet
    Nobody ever stares at him
    It’s only children who do that

    He’s not embarrassed but they are
    And if they're tense, he can’t relax
    He climbs a stool, pays for a beer
    Then tells the guy behind the bar:

    “You got a dwarf joke I ain’t heard
    You get two tickets to the show
    But if I get the punchline first
    You buy my beer? I never lose.”

    They laugh, the tension disappears
    His short legs hang, the barstool high
    He sits there chatting, drinking beer
    Like any other normal guy

    A seated handshake now and then
    It doesn’t matter who you are
    “Robert Murphy,” just the name
    All men are equal in a bar

    “One for the road, Rob?”
    “Nah,” he says:
    “I got one drink-and-drive arrest.”
    He pockets cigarettes and keys
    Then stands, bar level with his head

    The next part is no easier now
    Than it was forty years ago
    He slowly lights a cigarette
    Then makes the long walk to the door

    The circus is his place, his home
    He has his problems, that’s no lie
    But he’s a skilled comedian
    Well paid for doing work he likes

    The animals make quiet sounds
    The elephants clink on their chains
    He locks the gate and parks his van
    Home smells of canvas, dung, and hay

    The fridge spills light onto the floor
    He pops a beer, lets the door close
    He takes the bottle to the bed
    And presses ‘play’, the volume low

    Within the caravan in darkness
    Dave Gilmour’s quiet guitar chords
    Replace the loud, abrasive voices
    Din and babble of the bar

    Overdrafts and operations
    ‘The lunatic is on the grass’
    Death, divorce and separations
    Repayment bonds on houses, cars

    ‘Hanging on in desperation’
    Lyrics hanging on the night
    Voices raised in competition
    Rising taxes, rising crime

    ‘And if the dam breaks open’
    Endless human misery
    Voices, faces, words and places
    Ever changing, all the same

    The fool may have a greater wisdom
    Than the king, for he is free
    My father’s house has many mansions
    Lost lovers lust for unity

    “Ask Rob -- Rob will know the answer”
    “Talk to Rob -- ask Rob, he’ll know”
    Rob doesn’t always, but he listens
    And his door is never closed

    He is a true professional
    Rewarded well financially
    His job secure, his age protected
    The circus is his family

    A little drunk, nothing unusual
    Still half awake, but half asleep
    He mutters words into the darkness
    A clown’s prayer, and this is it:

    “Oh God, You made me like I am
    And me the lucky one for that”

    (2011 RJM Corbet)
    for @wil ?
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2022
    juantoo3, badger, stranger and 2 others like this.
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    Quite interesting...but now I wanna know the back story..... I thought I were the only clown around here with sideshow friends!
    badger likes this.
  4. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Nov 26, 2016
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    No back-story
    I just made it up.
    juantoo3 and wil like this.
  5. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

    Nov 26, 2016
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    However @wil informs me it's not like that in reality: clowns sleep three-up on bunks, and earn about enough to get by -- unless they can break through into the movies
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    I have a number of Ringling Graduate friends from back when clown college was a thing.

    At graduation ringling would make offers to the cream of the crop. And various other circuses would pick up the rest. There was a huge influx of South American clowns at one time and then when Russia collapsed and all the state run circuses and schools collapsed all sorts of circus folk migrated.

    We know the names and faces of the most successful clowns over the years...the rest remain in the blur of the circus ring.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2022
    juantoo3, badger and RJM like this.
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    It is a good story ... As boss clown he well could be towing his own trailer from show to show...
    RJM likes this.
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

    Jan 9, 2004
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    My favorite clown to this day, is Red Skelton

    But wil is a close second... ;)
    RJM likes this.
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    Omg...Clem was fantastic. Ever seen his oatmeal cooking? Amazing. Mark Victor Hansen (of chicken soup for the soul fame) said he was his favorite as well.
    juantoo3 likes this.

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