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Under Canvas

Fenced-in reindeer behind the circus tents
making hoofprints in the mud.
Their tracks wet with rain.
They carve their secret names,
pacing from one end of the pen to the other.

The caravan of trains line up on the track.
The sleeping cars are still.
At the kitchenette, an acrobat
applies white foundation to his face.
The Bird Woman smokes in bed,
hikes up her feathered bra and stretches her arms.

Under the canvas the idiot is practicing
another mishap with the ladder and the whistle.
He balances an egg on his nose,
slicks his hair back with palm spit,
tries on his cornucopia hat.

The ushers wait in the nosebleed seats
with their arms around their girls.
The clowns tease the children
by locking and unlocking the gate.

The organ grinder takes the lead of the theme,
the children spill in.

The foreman stands outside on white ticket stubs,
rubbing his bad shoulder.
After the dumb show he will swab the blue mats,
colored plastic rings and herring.

The reindeer move tender and brown,
between the birch trees.
The foreman whistles to them,
and lifts his his legs over the fence
He leaves his bag lunch
and three apples.

He climbs back over to the striped tents,
drinks from the water hose
and plays with his swabbing mop,
stirring his bucket.

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