Tuesday, April 1, 2008


[For latest prompt at One Single Impression]

They are the guardians of color,
the avatars of belly flop
and gargantuan guffaw.

With rainbow frizz
above flat feet slapping laughs,
they embrace the innocence of all mistakes

as they pratfall into dreams,
greasepaint smiling like a loon
or a drunken Christmas aunt.

Only after years have made mockery of play
do we turn away from the bulbous nose,
cringing from the funhouse echo of facade.

Pic: public domain


Roswila said...

"...they embrace the innocence of all mistakes
as they pratfall into dreams,..."

Wow, what a line.

Miladysa said...

Wonderful imagery and phrases Billy.

My favourite line?

"With rainbow frizz
above flat feet slapping laughs,"

There is nothing quite like a clown :-D

SandyCarlson said...

Years do make a mockery of play, don't they? Well said, Billy, as usual!

I love this line, and I see I am not alone:

"they embrace the innocence of all mistakes".

Thanks for this. God bless.
Writing in Faith

Cynthia said...

Wow, I enjoyed this poem,
esp. how you don't name the
clown, using wonderful & fun
descriptions. The words are
very strong, a hard sound
on the tongue, as if to accent
the way a clown goes over
the top to amuse.

Pearl said...

Loved the first few stanzas. So vivid and sound-fun.

OSI said...

This poem is so different than anything anybody else has posted. I read it several times and so enjoyed how you used the language. It seemed as if the lines were folded into an intricate design.


Teri said...

You are a master of words!

Cassiopeia Rises said...

Billy, you are a true master poet.This is an excellent poem. I can only strive to do better after reading this. My favorite line is
"they embrace the innocence of all mistakes". How true. I know that I'm still lost in childhood.
Just loved it so much.


Jo said...

Great job, love 'smiling like a loon or a drunken christmas aunt'. Clowns have always terrified me, but then so do drunken aunts GRIN.

Linda Murphy said...

Amazing visuals-I see myself as a child sitting in NYC's Madison Square Garden watching the circus. What a wonderful line - they embrace the innocence of all mistakes- and how as adults we lose the innocence of enjoying silly fun. Fantastic poem!

spacedlaw said...

I must admit I do find traditional clowns a tad creepy, but your images are good - not creepy at all.

Janice Thomson said...

Wonderful imagery William. Loved the insightful closure of this piece.

WH said...

Roswilla, I have to be honest: I think that's a beauty of a line, too LOL.

Thank you, Miladysa. The imagery here was, like my last poem, very tight I think.

Sandy, there is a long history of clowns representing figures of atonement as they suffer while people giggle, transforming the suffering into joy. I think that came out of high school religion class :) There is a GREAT short film called The Clown in which this theme is portrayed magnificently.

Cynthia, that's an apt description--clowns going over the top. I think that appeals to the kid in all of us ... the kid that loses the ability to be silly later in life.

Pearl, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it!!! I'll have to take a peek at your blog :)

meeyauw, I did indeed decide to go in a different direction with "laughter," trying to tap into why people become so afraid of clowns sometimes.

Teri, thank you for such kind praise!!!

Lanie, stay lost in childhood! There are too many adults in this world. Thanks for the kind words.

Jo, that's the whole thrust of the poem--how so many people become terrified of clowns as adults, which only comes through with the last line. They can look awfully creepy when looked through the filter of life experience. And I saw my share of drunk relatives on Christmas -:)

Linda, thanks! Adulthood is much overrated. As Wordsworth said, it is children who see the wonder of things--the glory all around us and the splendor in the grass.

spacedlaw, thank you. As I mentioned to Jo above, clowns can indeed scare the heck out of people, especially as adults.

Lana Gramlich said...

I love this! It takes a mighty talented poet to write about clowns.

Suzan Abrams, email: suzanabrams@live.co.uk said...

You're a whizz with your words, Billy. :-)

WH said...

Janice, thanks. I wasn't sure if the final line was enough, but I'm feeling minimalist -:)

Lana, My brother went to clown college. He's the only clown that doesn't scare me a bit LOL.

qualcosa di bello said...

your lines really drawn in memories of all the senses...i could have been at the circus as i was reading! believe it or not i really don't like clowns very much (don't know why) but your words sort of explained them to me in a way that my intellect had understood but my heart didn't.

pratfalling into dreams like my drunken aunt...that image alone is worthy of a gargantuan guffaw!

Casdok said...

Wonderful - i love it.

Lane Mathias said...

As one of your other commenters said
they embrace the innocence of all mistakes is a spectaular line.

In those three poetic sentences, you've captured not only the essence of a clown but what makes them seem so detached from us too.

And yes, clowns are very scary. I was scared of them as a kid too:-)

Charles Gramlich said...

It's great here how you relate a lot of various things together. Particularly salient to me was how you brought in the "Drunken Christmas aunt." Well done.

little wing writer said...

hmm.. made me think of the last time i went to a circus backwoods a small town.. the elephants were the best... 16 of them... felt young all over... amazing... the clowns.. wow, awesome... i think it was king's scary story that stole the happy clown from my heart... a beautiful poem...

paisley said...

they embrace the innocence of all mistakes...

every line a keeper... but this one did it for me... what a delight to read and ponder....

Chris Eldin said...

they embrace the innocence of all mistakes
as they pratfall into dreams

Since I am a children's book writer, that particular line really stood out. Very nice.

MyBellavia said...

Clowns give so much! Your poem is so impacting. I too love "they embrace the innocence of all mistakes" I do this often when I make a really dumb mistake, and end up laughing at myself!

WH said...

Suzan, does that make me a whizzer? LOL Thank you for the lovely comment!

Qualcosa, yes, clowns can be really scary, and the poem is really about how we go from laughing at them in childhood to fearing them as adults because so many people wear facades. We lose our innocence.

casdok, thank you :)

Lane, that's a good way to express this. We feel detached from the silliness of clowns because they can be so frightening. It's hard to look beyond their make-up, or in some cases, the make-up is so scary itself--like the world at large. I *think* this is a metaphor of how we approach life. It's hard to trust as we grow older.

Charles, thanks. I found the typical drunken holiday relative as scary as clowns. It seems there's one sot in every family who has to spoil the holiday. They're clowns too, though not always very funny.

onemorebeliever, IT by King is enough to make anyone freak out at clowns! I think he used the clown as the symbol of deception and evil very intentionally. It's almost archetypal.

paisley, that line seems to be the winner here for everyone. Makes me think. I guess we all want to be assured it's okay to screw up. I know I do :)

Christine, I probably mentioned before that I got my start writing picture books. My heart aches sometimes when I look through my son's collection of children's lit and recall the innocense and the humor that has been eclipsed by his late adolescent years.

my bellavia--LOL, yes, it is healthy when we can laugh at our mistakes or the troubles of a day. It's innocence reclaimed. Puff lives -:) Thanks so much.

SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for stopping by today, Billy. God bless.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Sort of a little bit (or a lot) afraid of clowns, but your words *almost* make me want to go to the circus and give 'em another try.

And that's saying *a lot* believe me ;)

Kate said...

I really like the image "drunken christmas aunt". Thanks for your comment on my blog!

JP (mom) said...

lovely ode to a clown ... peace, JP/deb

WH said...

Michelle, yeah, they can be creepy, which is what the last line is all about. I don't think I could go to the circus myself.

Kate, thanks ... and you're welcome -:)

Deborah, thanks. Have a great weekend!

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

beauty and power!

WH said...

Thanks, Andrew!