Just saw a preview for the movie,
Yes, where the main character (Jim Carrey)
feels inclined to say YES to everything
that comes his way after a break up
and a long depression; he says yes
to learning Japanese
and taking flying lessons
and staying up all night
going to raves.
I liked the message of the movie.
And since I was looking for summer work
at the time, I decided to look through Craig’s List
stumbling upon a job to be a clown
in the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus.
In order to audition, I had to come up
with a 3 to 5 minute clown act.
Having some hesitation as to what I could
pull off during an audition, I found some videos
of clown-auditions online, auditions
for this very circus.
They looked pretty wacky to me,
these auditions, so I figured why not.
Then I saw actual footage of the circus
on the road
in front of all those American crowds under the tent, and I suddenly realized
how corporate it all felt; it didn’t have any wild
in it like the wild in the Cirque De Soleil,
although even that one is beginning
to water down in quality.
The whole show reminded me of the show
I was forced to play for customers
when I waited tables.
In one waiter job, I was Jericho the Clown
with an orange Afro wig
and a red nose
that held up yellow pants
ten sizes too large.
But at least with the serving job
I was able to put a spin on the character
and be a clown with an attitude,
which got people laughing,
in turn, helping me keep smiling
despite the slave wages and hours
and labor involved.
Then I thought of all the jobs I’ve had
before and after the restaurants,
the watering plants, the delivery jobs,
the painting houses, the gardener gigs,
the telephone sales, the substitute teaching
through seven different districts,
the photographing dogs at pet stores,
and I realized I’ve been following the circus
for some time now.
The day I accepted the drink of the Gods,
that first tab of acid,
was the beginning of my journey
as a circus clown.
I clowned my way through all those horrifying jobs
juggling balls of restaurant names
and menus and server tests
and bar items
and dining room policies
and managers and co-workers.
I’ve clowned my way through school districts,
drew monster faces on white boards,
clowned face-first into write ups
and tense situations
and getting the boot from schools
for drawing those faces
and playing Hendrix during down time in class
and reading Bukowski aloud
to Emotional Disturbed kids
who related to the street wisdom of his voice.
I’ve played in bands
and I’ve painted demonic moods and faces
and I’ve molded clay
into creatures that wail
out of mud
like Primus albums stuck in gum.
I’ve dated fifty some odd women
with only two that have lasted
more than seven years.
I’ve applied to Beauty School
and I’ve danced in a lesbian bar
dressed as a librarian bitch.
I’ve stolen tennis shoes from Tar-jjjay
and I’ve popped pimples that shoot out puss
onto the mirror
and tucked my dick and balls between my legs
and fingered my crotch as if I was fingering a p*ssy
and I’ve faked a telephone call
to a pharmacy
pretending to be a doctor
prescribing Premarin to a transgender patient
and I’ve dumped the woman I loved
after seven years of growth
and sat on a cliff wanting to jump
and I’ve wept a thousand storms
because of it
and I’ve endured the death of my mother
as she turned into a vegetable
when I was a boy
and I’ve endured the death of my sister
on her eighteen birthday
from a car accident,
and I’ve endured the gradual deterioration of my father suffering from Parkinson’s.
I’ve spent Valentine’s
alone with the wind blowing
like haunted screams
and I’ve laughed with the Gods
on a bluff
overlooking the Pacific Ocean
after drinking mushroom tea,
and I’ve kicked a man out of a bar
just by asking him to leave
when lifting weights
was an interesting past time.
The circus is a myth for me,
not a literal tent to walk into.
The literal tent, the one used for propaganda
and deception, hides the fascist suits
drinking coffee beside elephant trunks.
I follow the circus in the heart.
I watch the beautiful
with clown make up
painted as a smile
as my eyes
sparkle the sad truth
that comes from the death of the butterfly.
I’ve seen the many states
and I’ve seen the aliens
ready to set fire to the Constitution
and I’ve traveled alone overseas.
I’ve watched countries burn
and wars explode
and riots riot.
I’ve slapped myself silly
in a cockroach infested bathroom and collapsed
while speaking in tongues.
This old circus clown
has toured the country and then some.
So, with all this under my belt,
once I realized this
and thought about these factors
and images and emotions,
I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything
at all when it came to that circus-clown gig,
and decided to let it go
and not apply and just keep doing what
I was doing, clowning in my own way,
because a clown is a clown
despite the clothes and despite the job.
He is the circus
and the circus is he
and that’s about all he can say
on the matter
without sounding like a teacher
trying to teach teaching
in a classroom
full of orangutans
sitting in chairs
at the sight
of a black hole
swirling above their heads.