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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

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