The White Clown
I am the white clown, who travels
from village to town, who says little
and preaches much. You laugh at me
cry for me, feel the pains that I
have endured for you, walked steps
upwards and downwards for you—
the dancing clown, harlequin’s laughing
clown, the stage walker who died in a duel
one snowy morning, who was not resurrected
on Easter, who fled with the demon horsemen.
Our family circused for generations.
Poppy died on the high wire.
Before his fall, we crossed deserts
moved to the mountains where
Swiss cottages dotted the miraculous lake.
We fished, and we caught many fish, which
we shared with the strangers who had
come to hear my message.
We divided the loaves.
Crowds grew and followed us.
We traveled in their lands and then
into other lands, the wagons swaying
the lanterns’ lights twinkling in the darkness.
My Venus sat beside me, pouring wine
into my cup, looking toward heaven
her hand squeezing my thigh.
She was young and beautiful, with
auburn hair, green eyes, long legs.
Her walk could drive a man wild.
Great masters have seen her as ugly
as a haggard old woman without teeth
as lovely as I. She was not repentant
did not wash my feet. Instead she gazed
out at me from Botticelli’s canvas and
held my hand as we stepped into the ocean.
We rode the waves together, called
upon Poseidon to bring us his chariot.
Then we left the old man with his nymphs.
In the spring, dogwoods blossomed.
The flowers grew into leaves.
Our caravan disbanded.
I gave up mandolin and turned
to three rings, performed indoors
painted my nose, wore striped pants
lost my hair as well as my waistline
It was for you, all for you
-- Red Skelton