The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd

Day 3 of my week responding to the WordPress Daily Prompt, which today is Circus

A moment came to mind from my visit to a Moscow circus several years ago. I present it below exactly as it happened. The form is an acrostic, not an anagram as my two previous posts described it. For pointing this out, my thanks to stoneyfish whose excellent site is well worth a visit.

Here’s my poem. Cue feeble drumroll …

Climb! - and on command they mount a rusty motorbike,
Its engine spitting flame, those three bedraggled bears in 
Russian national costume: sidecar-rider, pillion, driver.
Circling at speed a ring of baying faces, they yelp and whine 
Until the crash. Hurt and scared, they rage at one another as
Sticks and harsh words beat them back to solitary cells.



22 thoughts on “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd

    1. Indeed … my instant feeling, which still haunts me, is that the bears were angry with one another because they knew that crashing their bike meant punishment to come. Thanks for your comment, Curt.

    1. Absolutely! Almost worse was that the audience saw it as all part of the entertainment. It was like being transported back to Elizabethan times or Ancient Rome …

      1. Well that’s gotta be pretty disheartening. Was that a while ago? Hopefully people are becoming more aware of the cruelty involved in such things. It *is* illegal now to use animals in circuses, isn’t it? Or am i just imagining that?? I’ve not been to one since i was a kid!

        1. Illegal in the UK, I believe, but don’t know about elsewhere. Saw this in Moscow when I visited Russia around 15 years ago. Hopefully things have changed there too. Like shooting animals now means photographing them, unless you’re a loony trophy hunter.

    1. Thank you, my friend. I find the acrostic structure concentrates my mind. As to the Highlander quote, maybe we can find of using our weakness as a strength. Not so mucho macho, you might say …

    1. Alas, Opher, much as I would like to I can’t deny the truth of what you say. Maybe some time in our past our backs were against the wall – don’t we descend from a small group of individuals and may be somewhat inbred? – hence our obsession with power and our collective tendency to bully and torment captives. The dark side indeed …

    1. Thanks, I’m enjoying the challenge of fitting a complete world into a compressed space. Four more daily prompts to go and then I’ll kick off a shared poem. All welcome to contribute!

  1. The diction is superb. Most of the words compliment the intensity of what’s happening. However, I think the acrostic form made the last line halt for me. Also, “Russian national costume” seems odd (doesn’t give me a concrete image).

    1. Thank you for your compliment. To suit something is to complement it. I know what you mean about ‘Russian national costume’ but that’s how they were dressed – Red Army uniforms and women’s headscarves – and I couldn’t find a short way of saying that. As for the last line, do you mean it ended too abruptly? It’s always good to have critical feedback.

    1. Ah well, at last I have transmuted the raw experience into a kind of art. It won’t help them but it might help towards a better life for their offspring. Thanks for reading.

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