The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


George Perreault

Cirque du Soleil


Perhaps she was too young when we took her
and now she shudders at the name, remembering
just the creepy clown and little else, ignoring
the clever stagecraft and enchantments, and this has
soured the fulsome campaign season, the endless
blaring flags, their blatant lies and innuendos.

Perhaps if we’d stayed in the country, if we’d
still kept chickens and taught her to feed them on
our leavings, pulp and peel, stems of this and that,
if she’d learned how to raid their nests, how to
hang them by their feet, apply our whetted steel.

Or pigs, could there be a better school than
the sty, their cunning, their vicious little eyes,
the way they’ll devour anything, even god forbid
you should fall inside those thick-hewn walls.

And if our pedagogy included not just the death
we rain from above, the picture box could show
our own cities, like squash too long in the field
split open with rot, neighbors maddened by starvation
subtle or brutal, hatred or boots thick to the throat.

Perhaps she’d have been prepared for this season
when stale bread and circuses could no longer appease
the pampered livestock, when parceled fodder and
even sweet silage would no longer suffice, the walls
themselves must burn, no matter the cost – let there be
fire and death, grant the porcine clown his free rein.




GEORGE PERREAULT has served as a visiting writer in New Mexico, Montana, and Utah, and he has received awards for poetry in Nevada and Washington. He was a finalist for the Backwaters Prize, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and selected for nine anthologies and dozens of journals. His fourth full-length collection, Bodark County, came out in Fall 2016.



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