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Saturday, May 27, 2017


by Kyle Norwood

The clownishness of evil sometimes seems
To parody itself―buffoonish stare,
Garishly painted skin, foam-rubber hair―
Caricatures from circus-haunted dreams:

You’re in the stands and join in the applause;
Here comes the clown car, tiny as a toy,
While speakers blast Beethoven’s Ode to Joy,
But you don’t see how odd that is, because
You’re watching as the little car spits out
Clown after clown, burlesques of vim and pep,
With fake pink smile or red audacious pout.
One pounds a drum; the others dance in step
With flying feet in giant floppy boots.
Some moon the crowd, and some are even cruder,
Insulting us with boorish pantomime.
 (A choir sings Alle menschen werden brüder
Over the speakers, deafeningly loud.)
Looking around, you see that half the crowd            
Are dressed in frilly polka-dotted suits,                      
Hooting and stomping.  Clearly they approve.          
Meanwhile the clown car crew is on the move:  
Some run to block the exits; others climb  
Into the stands; two of them seek you out,
Surround you, grab you, lift you from your spot,
And drag you toward the ring of blinding light.
“Why me?” You cry.  “Why me?  What did I do?”
The folks in normal clothing turn their backs.
Last from the clown car steps a black-and-white-
Faced, bulging-muscled hulk, wielding an ax:
His hate-filled eyes are staring straight at you.

Kyle Norwood is the winner of the 2014 Morton Marr Poetry Prize from Southwest Review. His poems have also recently appeared in New Ohio Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly, Devilfish Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Lake (U.K.), Light, Right Hand Pointing, and the anthology Poems for a Liminal Age. He lives in Los Angeles, where he earned a doctorate in English at UCLA.