Four Circus-y Prose Poems by Benjamin Niespodziany

One.// This is How the Circus Explodes

Piles of pieces of circus tents have been found all over the city. The explosion happened sometime last night, perhaps in the early morning, long after the event was over, after the entire audience was collectively sound asleep with popcorn still stuck in their stained teeth, after all of the trapeze artists and lion tamers were sleeping in their train hammocks, dreaming of more forgiving balance beams and jaguar teeth. It was during these cherry blossom slumbers that the whole city heard the kaboom, the circus now a spot of smoke in a parking lot, consumed all props and batons and nets and diving boards, gone to the gods of oblivion. When the sun was up and the police and firefighters had tried to figure out the erupt, neighbors all over walked outside to grab their paper, finding patches of yellow polka dot vinyl in their lawn, on their roof, blanketing their car, bringing the circus inside, piece by piece, to use as new table placemats, as shower curtains, as a dress for the wife, who hasn’t purchased anything for herself in years, unless you count the wine cellar she visits every night. For her, life is less of a float and more of a steer.


Two.// Samoa Splashdown

The-Circus-by-Georges-SeuratOur plane crash-landed in Samoa, just as we had planned the night before, after we drank 100 grand worth of toucan blood mixed with tequila and drugs. I threw up then threw my phone in the ocean halfway through the flight (our helicopter had a sunroof, nice) and reminded my friends why we decided to do this in the first place: because Samoa is crawling with gold. “No one ever talks about it or knows where it is,” I slurred during the initial pitch, “but our investigations and chase-downs have changed all of that. Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who never stopped asking questions about treasure. He was a hometown relic and when he passed, it was someone’s task to hand me the map under the Samoan stars, I have it right here in my pocket, something about constellations pointing us to archer goddesses wide angled on two rockety boats. Let’s first unpack on this ivory coast and find out where it is we need to go.

Three.// Father Cash

The husband is a country club, a yard sale, an open road with a full tank. He keeps his riches in a bag marked Old House Dinner Plates. When the husband and wife go on vacation, their daughter visits their home and does some spring cleaning in the dead of winter, taking every box from the attic and tossing it to the charity hounds discounting mounds of jeans worn by dead guys. Work, retire, croak, she thinks. Ghosts find their coats in thrift stores. Something to wear for Halloween hijinks. When the husband and wife return from vacation, the husband goes to the attic to grab some cash, some diamonds, and some gold, commenting to his wife how they overspent on vacation, but so be it, you only live once, right? He laughs, knowing he has sacks of cash upstairs, but when he arrives to an empty attic, boxless and tragic,listening at once to the voicemail from his daughter, it was a long, long time before he came back downstairs to look his wife in the eyes. The news the next day made no mention, but it was later discovered that a nose to the grindstone employee, a thrift store sifter, went through the box of vintage dishes and found enough riches to last him three lifetimes. He pocketed a very small amount, looked up the number of the donor, and gave her a ring. Why the money never made its way back to the husband and wife is a mystery to everyone but their daughter Jan.


Four.// How to Mow an Underwater Lawn

Pinpoint your finger anywhere on the map. It’s an old hat people have worn to show spontaneity, open-mindedness, and sense of adventure through random travel. The only problem that occurred when I participated in this thoughtlessness is that I grabbed an outdated globe and accidentally pointed to an island in the Pacific that no longer existed. How do you visit land that is now gone? I took a boat and floated over it, over the idea of what once was, dunking my head into the sea to see if I could see anything: a home, a palm tree, a guy mowing his lawn, waving to me from far down below.




Benjamin Niespodziany is a librarian at the University of Chicago who runs a multimedia art blog known as neonpajamas. He self-released a chapbook of poems in December known as Dress Code Aquarium and has had work published in The Occulum, tenderness, yea, Water Soup Press, and Find him everywhere (Twitter/IG/Facebook/SoundCloud) as @neonpajamas

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