Peter Chapman Poetry

the circus

what is the best thing you can imagine right now she asked him

i think that would be a blue cup, he said, half full of cold coffee,
beside a book of poems, on a small chipped table near a bed
whose sheets mimic the ocean

it's so hot here, no rain for weeks
and the creek is dull with reflected thirst,
feeling the peculiar tickle of birds over
then in it, piercing the pollen skim
but the wind is good, blowing through the doors & hatches
as i work without clothes in the boat

calliope music at the gas station, a barker and a clown
shilling a red & yellow circus going up in a field,
here from Oklahoma for the day, drifting in like romance
on the warmth of insect singing summer and now down

the creek i smell and hear the circus traviata~
the clown's thick paint, the soil & feed of horse & elephant,
the tiger's strange remorse, the ring of hammers
on heavy spikes the breeze brings off the tentropes,
shivering the hairs on my knees

i have to work or would go, so i leave messages
on the answering machines of friends with kids

later i pass the field, empty now, just a few
barrels of trash & tire tracks going off toward the west,
and i hear you, or someone i used to know, ask
me to imagine a wonderful thing, and in my hurry
to write this down, i bump the white desk
and the coffee spills across the way out of town