What were we taught
as kids, laughing at
a bawling clown, the whipped horses
a caged old lion and the outraged midget?
Was it comforting to feel
that just for once
someone else than us were bullied?
Today my circus memories
leering schoolyard clusters into shame.
But, you say
“There also where the acrobats”,
I smile, finding comfort in the fact
that there were heroes then,
like trapeze magicians
and teachers breaking up the mob.
… and we grew up to learn
how much we’d turned into clowns.
This is written for Sarah on the circus prompt @ dVerse.. I will also link up to Tuesday platform @toads were Vivian hosts.
September 18, 2018
I like where you take this. The cruelty of the audience, linking with the cruelty of children, and then the rescue, and then the reminder that, yes, the clowns are already here.
I like how you brought us to picture the teachers breaking up the mob. It’s the least we can do, a brief moment of our attention, when these noble acts ought to be the main attraction holding us transfixed, inspired.
It’s funny how memories emerge bringing more with them. I like the contrast of good vs evil here…. and a sobering conclusion here.
I take it the school days weren’t the “good old golden rule days” at all. This is a thought-provoking poem right down to the last line.
Nice comparison to people being bullied and the ending with turning into clowns.
I hated the circus. The caged animals made me cry and the clowns frightened me. After the third time, my parents gave up. My father caught some if the neighborhood kids pushing me around and laughing at me. He picked me up and brought me home. They understood then why so didn’t like the circus and still don’t. A serious and sobering read.
Thank you … I ‘m glad we had the same emotions… but I did like the acrobats, and still do.
LOL. I always closed my eyes. they made much of the fact that trick was being done “without a net!”
Nice that the Cirque of today is all acrobats and high wire acts, with no animals. Their skill simply amazes me. Quite the segue from circus to schoolyard. You have referenced before the bullying you endured as a child; always sad to read of other’s misfortunes.
Interesting take – that someone other us was being bullied.
Amen, Brother! I like acrobats too. Clowns scare me to this day. Good writing!
I had the same feelings as you and Toni, but I also like the acrobats. I think now there are more aerial acts without the other circus stuff.
I like how you meshed the early experiences with bullying and those who were heroes. Or as Mr. Rogers said, “look for the helpers.”
I have to ponder your last two lines.
Oh, I remember the circuses from my childhood when things had mellowed down. Only certain birds and bunnies were part of the pact. The clown always made me sad though — the “bumbling fool” act was almost too real and somehow I am reminded of my own view of him while reading your verse.
I really liked it — it is interesting in its metaphor/view of the circus to highlight the bullying and the teasing that grip children through the generations. And the switch to finding comfort in the familiar acknowledgment of those heroes is quite refreshing.
Did any of us enjoy school days…bullying never seems to go away, but yes there were ‘heroes’ or maybe superheroes who made it just a little easier.
Thanks Bjorn. I guess we are not far removed from the Roman circus. Sometimes the audience is an unwilling part of the act
I think the whole point was that despite your own life being bad there was someone worse off than you and you could laugh at them. Circus’s and fairs were looked forward to to break the monotony of our lives. Now our monotony is staring at a computer screen!
i have the same empathy looking back now, but when I was young the circus held much fascination and joy for me, I never saw beyond the lights and fancy costumes
Wow that last line really packs a punch Bjorn! I think we can all relate to this and our memories of that time and the circus in our childhood. Great writing Bjorn!
Really nice comparison of school-days insecurities and bullying and the temporary feelings of catharsis that can accompany seeing anyone other than oneself be picked on. Love that you brought in the teachers to break up the fight- if only there were always a rational adult in the room to set us right!
You got that right… with side shows and freak shows and bullying all around… although we pretend it is not politically correct.
Bullies and heroes – is the circus just a reflection of life, a reversal of fortune for the night. I have never been attracted to the loudness and cruelty of traditional circuses. Skills and magic are more appealing.
Well, if this doesn’t send us all off to the mirror to laugh (or cry) at ourselves nothing will.
This deserves a real applause!
GREAT last two lines! I must admit here….I have ALWAYS HATED the circus! Because of that, I never took my children to one. I always imagined the animals being hurt when they were being trained to do all those tricks. And I never watched the 1950s “cowboy and Indian” shows on tv either because I hated it when the cowboy and/or the Indians, pulled the reins on the horses necks back and up to jerk the horse’s head just before it fell to the ground in their fights. You’ve nailed my feelings here — different words but same feelings.
Yes, we all live in our own private circus, and we are all clowns.
“Was it comforting to feel
that just for once
someone else than us were bullied?”
I share your ambivalence with circuses, although it has taken growing older and witnessing their dark side to give up my childhood affection for them.
A piercing and iconic write, Bjorn! 🙂
and we grew up to learn
how much we’d turned into clowns.
Where one detests the whole circus concept but you put it brilliantly with a tinge of humor!
It’s strange how all the metaphors related to the circus are unpleasant ones. I don’t even like the acrobats. I am uneasy with people defying death for the entertainment of others.
I like the way that you not only demonstrated your detest for some aspects of the circus, but you cleverly demonstrated that not all was “evil” and that goodness can be found working quietly near by making it the reader’s choice on which they chose to embrace.
I was never fond of the circus. I sat between horror and amazement.
I like the droll whimsy of this while all the time you are tackling the very serious subject of bullying. The last line says it all really.
The pathos here is definitely present in circuses. Entertainment can be cruel. (K)
You’re so right.. you grow up and realize how awful the circus is..and how we could ever enjoy it!
I like the contrasts between bullies and clowns.
This is definitely a hard-hitting look at the circus. Nicely done.
When we don’t see (and do what we can to change) the horror of the cages and the whips being used as entertainment, we certainly become clowns… ugly things laughing and crying at their own powerlessness. I despise zoos and circuses and all things of the sort. And I’ve often wondered how others can find delight in the suffering of so many. Then, I remember–we are human, and that implies all sorts of terrible things.
It was easy to relate to the original poem, but now I’m wondering about people’s experience of clown acts. Yes, some of them were supposed to make bullying seem funny, but…all of them? I remember some school friends who “got into clowning” as what they saw as a positive ministry–making fun of embarrassments like tripping, telling jokes, juggling if able, etc. Does anyone else remember having seen that type of clowns?