Ghazal for Running Away from the Circus

When truth rejects speech, flee. The sentence for mute belief
is steep. Risk is highwires without nets, just like belief.

It’s a bestiary with no feeding tent; a lament
of clowns; a sham. I’m a flying trapeze of belief.

The circus breaks you. Makes you ache to see trained stallions
prance. Not me. I unbraid manes with wild, childlike belief.

Pink-dyed poodles, pampered & snide, pant to protect their
personalized rides, sequined tights, candy-apple belief.

My lips stuck to their empty, blue sugars, spun finely
on sticks, & glued themselves shut. Licorice hid belief.

Lion tamers cracked the blackjack Daniel. He’s been shot,
or swings high, noosed. The troupe burst his balloon of belief.

And we bleed to order, whacked with the Ringmaster’s whip,
jumping through hoops. I roughen my tongue for some belief.

But its juice brings me no comfort. My southern suns burn
to ash; evening workhands peg out the Western belief.

There’s darkness after the floodlights die. We’re told one thing –
but conflicting echoes question the upheld belief.

Justice is a white elephant, trying to leap through
flaming rings; too weighty to raise hope with bright belief.

I run away, but the circus is rife. There’s no place
safe from knife-throwers, top hats, high banners of belief.

Sawdust absorbs the beasts’ piss, & chokes off our breathing
on purpose. The chained bear stinks; her sores weep with belief.

Covered in makeup, we hide our true stripes with ruses.
But zebras aren’t unicorns; bullhorns can’t flute belief.

I’m done with grease-paint; I’m torn from running. No three-ring
zealot can tame me, if love can be my first belief.





kerryPhotoDecades ago, kerry rawlinson gravitated from sunny Zambian skies to solid Canadian soil, nurturing family and a career in Architectural Technology. Fast forward: she follows literature and art’s muses around the Okanagan, barefoot. She’s won contests (Geist, CaGo Gallery); been published in Connecticut River Review, Painted Bride, Salomé, and Arc Poetry, among others; and been featured in various anthologies, including Forgotten Women (Grayson Books).