Underneath the circus sky the air is thick with purple smoke.
The leotarded ranks strut by, the sequinned showgirls wink and joke
And whistle kisses to the folk who’ve come, by God, to see them fly.
Their pintucked pinions defy the wide-mouthed crowd, the raw applause,
The wide-eyed wildness waiting where the net is not, but was before.
The tethered bear self-flagellates. The organ-grinder winds a reel.
A greasepaint Joan of Arc flagrates. It isn’t real. It isn’t real.
And there beneath the mast stand I, a spit-and-sawdust plutocrat,
A cat-o’-nine-tails in my fist, a stranger in a stranger’s hat.