Sock and Buskin

Beautiful night time carnival image of a big top tent and a ferris wheel in the background.

The harlequins should tumble, for your death
will not defy the odds, and grins will stamp
themselves on faces day-to-day. Your breath
will catch. Your heart will stop. And on the tramp
will go, abundantly, and the Auguste,
his patterns unaligned, his circus ring
his home where pranks are art and no mot’s juste
, will show that laughter is worth worshiping.
No, God is not a clown, and Pagliacci
wears the face I note each night before
I go to bed. No heaven I can see
for clowns or lion tamers. God’s a bore.
His repertoire’s the same old sleight of hand
that made you think the sky’s a holy land.


Charlie Green teaches in the Department of English at Cornell University. His writing has appeared in Image JournalThe New England ReviewThe Southeast Review, and other venues. His first collection of poems, Feral Ornamentals, will be published by Finishing Line Press in March 2021.