by Best Poem
They were there when I got there
and still there when I left,
wearily wheeling my ash can
and long-handled broom
into unfamiliar precincts of dawn.
Oh, how they oohed at you,
the bareback rider in the poster,
expostulated on your red match-head of hair,
your faded and peeling pink costume
encrusted with Fourth of July sparklers,
your white horse whirling round the ring
like a storm of paperweight snow,
and after the side street summoned me
by the name flowing in loops
of soiled thread above my heart,
they stayed on, as though they heard
the ringmaster cracking his whip
for attention inside the tent of fire,
his swallowtail coat and tall black boots,
the rising panic in his voice reminding them
of something, just not sure what.
Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of three poetry chapbooks, Death of the Frog Prince (2004) and Heartland (2007), both from FootHills Publishing, and Strangers & Angels (2007) from Scintillating Publications. He was recently nominated for the second time for a Pushcart Prize.