the circus train comes to town once a year,
carrying Russian ballerinas & corporate America dropouts.
she brings an irresistible bouquet of
caramel apples & greasepaint, of
cotton candy & mechanical smoke.
the circus is a seductive beast, she'll grab your heart
between her teeth & she won't let go, like a
when the show begins on opening night,
you'll be sure to grab a front row seat, right in the
Grand Stand, among the soccer moms & their sticky-faced toddlers.
you'll feel the childish delight bubble
in your chest when the music swells, when the elephants march
& the clowns tumble out in garish colors.
after the show, you'll stumble to the three rings with the
toddlers & their tired moms, right to the center ring, don't be
shy when the clown dressed in yellow & black,
like a bumblebee, comes towards you, a devilish grin on
his painted coal black lips.
your knees will tremble, you'll turn as red as his big nose, when he pulls your back to his solid chest, & he begins to juggle right in front of you.
"stick around, after closing" he murmurs in your ear, "that's when the real circus begins."
the circus is painted bright, a swirling mass of
red & blue, with sparks of yellow, ribbons of pink.
even when the show is over, the mystery is still
there, the sweet seduction lingers, like an old lover's fingers can trace circles on your skin in the dead of night.
when the bumblebee clown drags you around town that night,
as if he lives there & not you, you'll go along with him,
your heart racing fast, as fast as the girl dressed in
pink spandex flew from the cannon across the circus ceiling,
how could you have forgotten that?
he'll take you to McDonald's, ask you to pay for the meal, he's broke until Thursday at 2. of course. you split a small
fry and a chocolate shake, by then it's midnight,
he performs some simple magic tricks, balancing a
chair on the edge of his chin, snagging a shining quarter
from your brunette curls, watch out, girl, he's reeling you in,
he's as seductive as the circus.
he will walk you back to your college dorm &
he's sure to mention how it's been years since he has
been inside a dormitory, since clown college, yes it's real.
your roommate is gone & you're not ready to say goodbye
just yet, so you'll sign him in & guide him to your third floor
he marvels at your textbooks & cuddles your teddy bear
brought from home, while you drink him in, solid, squat,
a true Texican, his skin is brown as caramel, & you wander
if he will taste just as sweet. he'll notice your blush, & pull
you close, pinch your hips, nuzzle your neck & kiss you hard,
maybe a bit too hard.
he lays you on your back, & you're naked, you're scared,
vulnerable, you watch him dip his head & kiss you, nibble you in that sweet, sweet forbidden spot. there's a black coal
in your chest, in the pit of your stomach, you're disgusted,
you're curious, you taste the circus firsthand, gagging.
the circus will remain in town for
an entire week, & for an entire week you have a
circus clown as a boyfriend.
you take him on adventures around your college campus,
to your favorite burger spot, to the big water balloon fight
& he'll show you the circus world, you'll hug
an elephant, you'll drink your first beer in Clown Alley,
& you'll watch the show a dozen times.
he'll write you a love letter on your skin, caramel drips on
China porcelain, he'll leave bruises in the shapes of hearts,
& you'll cry when he leaves, it's only been a week, but
it's been a lifetime. he'll hold you tight, too tight, and he'll whisper,
"it's only a year, i'll see you in a year."
when the circus train leaves, the asphalt lot will be
conspicuously empty, except for a trampled clown nose,
much like your aching heart. you'll feel numb & blue,
you'll cling to your phone, the clown promised you
he would call.
you fall asleep cradling your phone to your chest, startle awake when he finally calls you, it's 4 in the morning, you have an early class, but that can wait, his voice is on the other line.
you'll lose a lot more than sleep when you fall in love
with a circus clown, you have to conform to his schedule,
you see, he is the one calling the shots, not you, not we.
you'll start to slip up in your classes, all you do is stare at your phone screen, who cares about supply vs. demand, anyway?
you hitch a ride to see the clown half a year later, you could
hardly stand him being an hour away, & you'll fly into his arms
like a trapeze artist, after the show, he'll carry you like a bride
to his coffin
bed & you're naked again, scared, vulnerable, he's all the way
he's grunting and sweating, and you're cowering, numb.
you leave 15 minutes later, with shaky thighs, you're slightly
nauseated, you try to kiss him goodbye, but he pushes you away,
he's got eyes on the concession stand girl, the one with
raven black hair and a Marilyn Monroe piercing. your heart drops as you get into the car, your friend begs you to talk, but you can't,
you're confused, you're scared, you won't see the clown
for some time to come.
you try to focus on your schoolwork, but your As slip to Ds, you
try to go out with your friends, but they want to talk about
the cute guy in psychology, not about a circus clown miles away.
you forgot to do laundry, all you do is lay in bed, your dorm is
smelling moldy, your roommate starts to stay away. you're
falling, sinking into a blue sea, deep, dark, endless.
when you fall in love with a circus clown, you must know
you're just another Rube from another city, nothing special,
you see, he's got girlfriends in Florida and Las Vegas, that
concession stand girl, too, you're nothing special, girl,
not even close. you gave it all up, your love & your
bleeding heart, to a circus clown, you foolish girl, don't
you know, he'll just play you as hard as he plays in the
A fictitious retelling of the very non-fictitious years I spent in love with a real-life circus clown. It's been three years since my heart was broken, and I finally feel like I can tell my tale.