Two Poems & Advertisement by Jackie Craven

*Ed.’s Note: click image to view larger size.


Edited version of a public domain advertisement

The circus has a new address
~Ringling Bros. to close ‘greatest show’…

The elephants left long ago—Linked snout to tail, they
plodded over to the Capitol dome and now the
monkeys follow, swinging from legislative branches.
Rounding the beltway, bears on unicycles lead a parade
of human oddities: alligator people, men with gills,
Siberian contortionists.
(Who would’ve guessed a nose could go there?)
The West Wing swells with calliope tunes
and—everywhere—the scent of popcorn and
dung. P.T. Barnum raises his megaphone. This
show’s gonna be great again
, he says, this
show’s gonna be huge.
Magicians flourish
bright handkerchiefs—Lights flash. Smoke rises.

Fifteen clowns wander the grounds, looking lost.

To Hell with Hopkins

“Glory be to God for dappled things—”
Gerald Manley Hopkins, 1877

Fuck the ones who followed—
obedient alphabet on a seasick deck—
all Noah’s brood puking & pooping—

plodding hooves & fickle claws—
dappled feathers & freckled scales—
the meek & weak & all their progeny—

ARMADILLOS flattened on the Florida road (the tire treads—the flies)
BULLS hurtling headfirst into pointed lances
CHIMPANZEES dressed in britches

DEER frozen in headlights
& plaster ones on manicured lawns
ELK who hang their horns on hunting lodge walls

FOXES wagging their tails from Crockett caps
GERBILS racing in squeaky wheels
HIPPOS pretending to be logs

IGUANAS yearning to be dinosaurs
JAGUARS slinking beneath the shadows
KOALAS who sleep 18 hours a day

LIONS who bow to chairs & whips
MINKS draped over the shoulders of wealthy matrons
NUMBATS with 50 teeth & none of them bite

OPOSSUMS pretending to be dead
PENGUINS who teeter on shrinking floes
QUETZALS who hop even though they know how to fly

RHINOCEROS who do not/cannot propagate
SWANS making love with twisted necks
TIGERS tattooed with jail cell stripes

UAKARI with pink faces & human hands
VULTURES who prefer meat covered with worms
WOMBATS who require two weeks to digest a meal

X-RAY TETRA swirling nakedly in fishing nets
YAKS who have forgotten how to thrive in the wild—
Fuck them all every fucking one & also fuck

ZOOKEEPERS with their heavy keys & iron rules
Victorian poets with their meter & rhymes
& elephants who do nothing but watch

Jackie Craven has poems published in New Ohio Review, Nimrod, River Styx, Salamander, Water~Stone Review, and many other journals. Her 2016 chapbook, Our Lives Became Unmanageable, won the Fabulist Fiction award from Omnidawn Publishing. Visit her at

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