We ran away to join the circus.
She would be an acrobat.
I would fly in the trapeze.
On horseback, she would leap through hoops of fire
While I would gaily juggle knives. and
She would twist her arms and legs, and
I would make the great cats dance.
With dreams of fame and glory we ran
From the small town where we lived
Through the corn fields and the apple orchards
The sweet smells of fall.
Past the great oak tree and the river
Where I used to fish with Jeremiah
To the edge of the forest where the calliope lured us
To the company of Mr. Smiley
Who painted toothy grins on us with
rusty blade and hid our tongues in the forest.
Dressed in bloodstained clothes far too big
He made us dance and fall and stumble
Like drunken puppets every night for his show.
The show! How the audience of coyotes
and crickets cheered and howled
Until the circus ended and Mr. Smiley left us alone
Snug and cold together within the soft ground where we slept
Until beckoned again by the sounds of the calliope
We wake from our slumber and come forth to find
Another boy or girl to join our merry troop of mirth.