Annmarie Lockhart and Bridget Fahey O’Brien

Bridget Fahey O’Brien

All the World Loves a Clown

Inspiration Piece

Join the Circus

By Annmarie Lockhart


I’ve never been a fan of clowns.

Nor stilt walkers, fire breathers,

or sword swallowers. The stilts

speak to me of disproportionate

limbs, nightmarish, threatening.

Fire and cremation are too closely

linked for my liking. Swallowing

a blade? Really? I don’t want

to invoke Freud today. Or ever.


But back to the clowns. Red

ball nose and patch-head

rainbow hair epitomize ugly,

invoke a freak show crowd.

Paint mask smile is a grotesque

mockery of happiness. Is the

underlying expression cruelty,

fear, revulsion, or heartbreak?


The circus is a garish paste-up,

color and sequins layered on top

of deformity, abandonment, hurt.

The ringmaster leads a collective

callout of a massive underclass,

stringing up the starved life

they’ve been force fed,

calling it entertainment.

The bears and the elephants,

trained and restrained, baited

and crated, threaten to rampage.

The clown wears the face of the devil.


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  1. Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm | #

    this is both surreal and beautiful — a strange and gorgeous pairing!

  2. Posted December 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm | #

    The photo is brilliantly disturbing. The poem perfectly displays the creepiness of a circus performance. Excellent collaboration!