Updated date:

The Ringmaster, a Poem

John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He loves story-telling and also has a Certificate in Permaculture Design.


Circus. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.

— The Devil's Dictionary, Amrose Bierce (1881-1911)

The Ringmaster

The Ringmaster strode into the tent,

A cane gripped in his hand.

He tipped his top hat at the crowd

And quickly took command.

The first act is a woman,

A baby in her womb.

A rapist gave her HIV,

The babe is in a tomb.

Next, you see a blind man

Who begs upon the street.

All he asks is some loose change

For a simple bite to eat.

Jet-setters flying overseas,

"Which country this vacation?"

Not thinking that the money spent

Could feed a starving nation.

Cast your eyes back to the stage,

An act you mustn't miss.

A troll who preys on lonely souls

To promise wedded bliss.

Our next wonderous attraction

Is a homeless family.

They sleep within their car each night,

Oh, what a sight to see!


We've many more performers

To excite and surprise,

A drug lord and a pusher

Who have ruined so many lives.

Step up, step up and marvel

At the Greatest Show on Earth.

The wealthiest 15 per cent

Hold most of the world's worth.

A scrawny, starving, mangy dog

Sniffing through the garbage,

Once was a small child's Christmas gift.

it's a crime it grew too large.

Look up at the high trapeze.

Taking a deep breath,

A teenager bullied every day.

He's contemplating death.

Observe the young girl cowering

In a corner of the ring.

She was kidnapped as a sex slave.

A depraved but common thing.

Bulldozers clearing tracts of land,

Our wildlife gets displaced.

Investors rubbing hands with glee,

For consumer greed and waste.


Tell your friends and family

The Circus is in town.

The only thing this great show lacks

is a truly funny clown.

I hope that you enjoyed the show,

And that all the acts enthralled.

Now go home to your normal lives,

Try not to think at all.


The Ringmaster by Morris West

As with all my recent posts, this poem was also inspired by the title of a novel from among those in my bookcases. This time it's Morris West's The Ringmaster.

Morris West would have to rank among my favourite authors (though that is quite a long list) and this novel doesn't disappoint.

Here is an excerpt: "It was the season called maples-in-flame. The sky was ice-blue, flecked with wisps of cloud against which the crags of the crater rim rose black and threatening. Among the high peaks the air was cold; but in the deep hollow of the basin, it was warm and still. The lake, girdled by garden plots and stubble land, lay mirror smooth, gleaming like old lacquer."

Morris West is the author of a number of best-sellers including: Tower of Babel, Proteus, Salamander, The Devil's Advocate, and The Shoes of the Fisherman.

The Ringmaster by Morris West

The Ringmaster by Morris West

© 2018 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on December 06, 2018:

Thanks Ann, yes the real definition of a circus. I agree.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 06, 2018:

I meant to add that I liked the definition at the beginning!


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on December 05, 2018:

When I chose the title “The Ringmaster” I was fully intending to write a circus tale, but my pen had other ideas. Thank you for reading and enjoying this Ann.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 05, 2018:

A hard-hitting poem, shocking us even more when we expect a circus-type scenario - very well done; that's the way to grab attention and make us think carefully about people and things around us.

One of your best, I think, John. Brilliant!


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 21, 2018:

Yes, Lawrence, that does make it all the more disturbing. The fact that these things exist in our society.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 21, 2018:

Yes, Lawrence, that does make it all the more disturbing. The fact that these things exist in our society.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 21, 2018:


A very disturbing poem, not for it being so bleak, but because many of those things I can relate to.

Well written.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 18, 2018:

Yes, Dana, the really sad part is that it IS true.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on September 18, 2018:

Very deep, sad, and, unfortunately true.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 15, 2018:

Thank you, Tim. Such praise coming from such an accomplished writer as yourself means a lot. Sometimes we have to tell it like it is without the sugar coating.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on August 15, 2018:

Wow! John, right on the money, as they say.

I agree with Jo. We sent in the clowns to our nation's capital, but a circus has to end.

You explored what is really happening in the world and described it accurately. You also did it with poetic flair and style.

Thank you for a wonderful work.

Much respect,



John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 14, 2018:

Thank you, Shauna. This even surprised me with the turn it took. I guess the message needed to be written.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 14, 2018:

Wow, John. This is deep, dark and all too realistic. I wasn't expecting this poem to take the turn it does. Great way to try to open the world's eyes. Very powerful poem, John!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 14, 2018:

Thank you for reading this social commentary MsDora. Unlike the smiles often provided by a real circus it describes a stark reality of situations in the world today that we need to strive to change.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 14, 2018:

This circus surely depicts the modern day world, even including situations which did not exist a few generations ago. It's real and reminds us how life is changing. It also puts a change in our smiles. Good job, Jodah!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 13, 2018:

Yes, sorry for that, Jo. I know where you are coming from. Thanks for reading though.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 13, 2018:

As an American, I find this poem a little too realistic and depressing right now. A clown seems to be running our show.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2018:

Thank you Manatita. Our world needs constant prayer, doesn’t it?

manatita44 from london on August 12, 2018:

A tough staring-me-in-the-face- sort of account of life's realities, but crafted well. I have seen The Towel of Babel on many shelves.

About this arena in which we live, let us pray.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2018:

I always look forward to your comments, Rinita. Yes, that is something I often wonder too. How many billionaires are there in the world? No one needs that much money. If they all donated a fraction and it was distributed appropriately...but that's a pipe dream. Glad you liked the excerpt from the Morris West book too. He is a wonderful writer. Thanks for reading this.

Rinita Sen on August 12, 2018:

Firstly, that excerpt of the book was wonderful. I need to read this. Coming to your poem, blatant worldly truth expressed in a gripping narrative. I especially liked the stanza on the money spent on expensive vacations that could feed a nation. I have often wondered, how different the world would be, if the wealthiest were willing to share a little bit more. Glad you wrote this, John.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Thank you, Linda. I chose the title a few days before I decided what to do with this poem. Was originally considered a lighthearted poem but a I suddenly had an idea for a completely different direction and it all fell into place. I appreciate that great comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 11, 2018:

This is a very powerful poem, John, I think it's one of the best that you've posted here. I was expecting a light-hearted poem after I looked at the colourful photos at the start and read the first verse, so the second verse was a shock. You did an excellent job in creating this article.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Linda, outside my comfort zone is an understatement. This one was meant to confront and hit hard. I guess it achieved that, but I promise a change of direction in my writing from now on. Hope and inspiration here we come. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Mary, that was exactly the message I wanted to portray. You described it perfectly. Sometimes we need to be confronted ny the ugly realities rather than ignoring them.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Thank you, Venkat, for seeing the sarcasm laced in this poem. I hope that those who need to see this message read it. I greatly appreciate the generosity of your comment.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Eric, what can I say? I don’t know what has come over my muse lately but I think it was all leading to this dark, bleak message which is far away from what I’d prefer to be writing. Now it is off her chest we can move on to brighter more inspirational topics. Thank you for your care and honesty in your comment.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Hi, Sean, I realise this is a far cry from my usual inspirational fare. It is perhaps darker than I intended but sometimes society needs a hard punch to the stomach and eyes need to be opened to what is happening. Thank you my brother for your wonderful comment.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Yes, Bill, the depth of the bleakness of this poem came as quite a shock. I certainly drifted to the dark side of life. Morris West is a wonderful Australian author who I am sure you will enjoy.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 11, 2018:

John, did you step outside of your comfort zone on this one? You usually show some glimmer of hope in what you write, but today there is none. What a sad commentary, told by a master wordsmith.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2018:

How well you depicted to us the ills in our society that many times we look at as we go about our own comfortable lives, always searching for the next attraction, the next entertainment, oblivious to the suffering of the many....just a spectator.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on August 11, 2018:

A very beautiful picturization of our life. I am awe stuck with wonder at the way you narrated it all so sarcastically and entertainingly. A great message to people.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 11, 2018:

Staying true I say to you. We have no animal shows in circuses here, too cruel. Yet sentient beings still are captive and perform for their food. You went off your intended rails here and I felt it, no not noticed it.

I worry for the dark of your book muse. You yourself and family are the novel.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on August 11, 2018:

My brother John I am speechless in front of the power of your words. Believe me, all these are on a daily discussion in our family, in order to grow up conscious children, but still, I am trying to get over the punch in the stomach that this poem is! I hope many to read and feel it.

You are one of my favourite poets! I am proud to know you.

God Bless your talent!


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 11, 2018:

You paint a very bleak picture of life today, John.....bleak and realistic, I'm afraid. Thanks for the heads-up on Morris West. I think I'll pick up a book by him and give him a try.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Hey, whonu. Thanks for the kind words. I really began intending to write a poem about a regular circus but my words took a different turn. Blessings.

whonunuwho from United States on August 11, 2018:

Yep, it is like a big circus isn't it. Well done in this production, metaphorically speaking. Reminds me of an old poem I once wrote years ago about how life is like a circus. Many blessings my friend.whonu

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2018:

Kenneth, you don't know how I appreciate your continued appreciation of this hub. I try my best to select photos to suit the text. Glad I succeeded. Thanks, my friend.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on August 10, 2018:

1:17 a.m., CDST., Aug. 11

Jodah -- leaving you this comment on my way out of such a terrific hub, this one really stands out for many reasons--the graphics match the text which are all in a timed-balance and I noticed that right off.

What more can I say, except cudo's to you, my Good Friend, Jodah.

Friends for Life.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2018:

Yes, Clive, it seems they do :) Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on August 10, 2018:

Real and natural points you have there. I see great minds think alike.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on August 10, 2018:

Jodah -- since reading your poem, I am havING a great day and I wish you a Greater day or night because it is 11:34 p.m., cdst, Friday night and I am going to hit the hay soon.

Again, Jodah. Super-nice work here.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2018:

Kenneth, I don't know what to say other than thank you so much for reading this and for your generous comment. This was more hard-hitting and confrontational than most of my poetry Kenneth, but there is a common theme running through my recent posts. Have a great day.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on August 10, 2018:

WOW, Jodah! -- and I do mean, wow! In-depth; covered all the bases in life and even those that (some) powers of society would deem taboo. Great poem, my friend. And the time and measure was near-perfect. I loved and enjoyed it.

Publish as many more poems (like this) as you please for I will find them and absorb them, Jodah.

Again, great work.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2018:

Yes, Flourish there certainly are some atrocities taking place around the world. I try not to go into specific national or political issues but your concerns are very valid. I hope things improve before they get worse.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 10, 2018:

I’m pretty bummed at all the terrible things going on in the world. Putting kids in cages and seeing the US west coast burn up together make a new low for me.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2018:

Thank you, Mike. I think this poem could have gone on forever if I wanted. There are so many more social woes than I listed. Every time I thought I'd finished I thought of another to add. I appreciate you reading this.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2018:

Val, it seems a lot of my writing lately is delving into the depths of that part of our soul. my muse seems to be stuck on a theme and must be trying to get a point across. I just hope I am not just preaching to the converted so to speak. Always great to get your comment on my work.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 10, 2018:

Hello John - You warped so many social issues into this piece of writing. Great idea to draw inspiration from the titles in your library. Very important social woes earmarked, suggesting change.

ValKaras on August 10, 2018:

John---So well written, enlightening, and terribly thought provoking, testing the deepest parts of our sympathizing soul.

Related Articles