Gingerbread House Lit Mag

Small Life

Where I grew up everybody
became a knife-thrower
or else worked in the
more bureaucratic
parts of the traveling circus.

There was a town nearby
and towns all across the valley
where the others came from:
the glass eaters, the armless wonders,
the strong men.

Who really knew what life was like
outside our town
and who cared?
By day the men would
drink from tin cups

and gamble while we wandered
beneath them,
waiting until night
to tell the stories
we had heard.

We traveled, sure,
shoulder to shoulder,
packed in caravans,
holding our children and

and from our campgrounds
we saw the big tents go up at night.
We saw the crowds, too, sure,
there used to be thousands
of people.

As they filed out of the grandstands at dusk
we would follow them,
pocketing the gum
we had scraped from the

We followed them out
to the main road,
past the vendors and the arcade,
and we watched them

And who knew, I thought,
making note of a stitch
that had come loose
in my red velvet cape,
who knew of a better world?

When I turned back
from the road
I saw the last lights going out
in the lampposts along
the arcade,

one by one, receding
until at last the night came in
and the moon hung low
and the only light left was the dull glint
of the knives.


JLR is a playwright and poet. He partially attributes his imagination and love of the fantastical to not having many friends in middle school. Currently, he is living in and around bus stations along the eastern seaboard and occasionally visiting train stations as well

Artwork: Rob Woodcox, “Family Circus” series

This entry was published on October 25, 2015 at 12:08 am and is filed under 15 (October 2015), Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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