Send in the Piano Clown

“I don’t know if I should laugh or cry into my beer,” Leon said.

“Do both at the same time,” Samantha said.

“Feels like we’re stuck in limbo in this bar,” Leon said. “Like we need to do something to get to heaven.”

“That’s easy,” Sam replied. “Just walk out of here.”

Leon said, “But I’m riveted to this guy’s spoken-word poetry about his doomed relationship with Carol while he plays piano and sings ‘Send in the Clowns ‘and ‘Piano Man’ and tosses back cocktails.”

“It’s a weird mix, that’s for sure,” Samantha said. “Is this what people mean by ‘avant-garde’?”

Leon shrugged. “I think it means whatever you want it to mean.”

“That’s not helpful. Why is he dressed as a clown? Is it some kind of symbol for how he feels inside?”

“Maybe,” Leon said. “Or what if it’s a social commentary on being a performer? You know, like a trained monkey?”

Sam shook her head. “We’ll never know. Look at that. He passed out.”

“Poor bastard.”

“Him?” Sam said with a laugh. “We’re the poor bastards who had to listen to him. C’mon, let’s go. We’ve been granted freedom.”

As the couple walked toward the bar’s exit, they saw the other patrons were still watching the clown draped over the piano. Perhaps they wondered if the clown would sputter back to consciousness and continue to entertain them with his act. Or perhaps, after a rest, the clown would start the second act of his performance that was different than the first. Samantha and Leon would never know, as they left the bar and walked towards another bar across the street, their feet moving with the hope of a more “normal” situation in the other bar.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Learning a Little About the Students

An aardvark walking, with small bushes behind it.
by Louise Joubert/Wikimedia Commons

On the first day of school, the teacher asked the elementary school students to say one thing about themselves.

Starting in the front row, each student spoke. Some spoke energetically, some softly. Olivia Murrell’s favorite color: purple, Noah Hillman’s favorite food: pizza, Sofia Valdez’s favorite movie: The Wizard of Oz, Makayla Weber’s favorite food: cake, Dominic Rowley’s favorite color: red, Xavier Carrasco’s favorite baseball team: Los Angeles Dodgers, Ellie Ishida’s favorite holiday: Christmas, Anthony Arborghast’s favorite animal: zebra.

The teacher help up her hand and said, “Let’s take a little break there, please. I have a question. Anthony Aardvark Arborghast, could you tell the class why your parents picked your middle name? I’m very curious.”

Anthony Aardvark Arborghast was a shy boy and his voice was low, but he managed the explanation. “My mom and dad wanted my middle name to be an animal. But they couldn’t agree on which animal. My mom’s favorite animal is the aardvark, and my dad’s favorite is the albatross. They had a contest for who could pick my middle name. They played one round of miniature golf and one round of gin rummy. They worked on the crossword puzzle in a Wednesday edition of the New York Times to see who could get the most answers. They jumped to see who could jump the farthest. They wrote essays about the possible dangers of technology. Three of their friends served as judges to pick the winner of that one. They took a test of real-world math, which included household finances, sales tax, and statistics in news stories. And finally, they made funny faces and funny voices to a friend to see who could make the friend laugh louder. They agreed on a complicated scoring system for all those contests to see who won the whole thing. My mom won.”

Silence in the classroom as the teacher and students took in all of what Anthony Aardvark Arborghast had said. The kids looked around at each other. The kids looked at Anthony Aardvark Arborghast.

The teacher said, “Well, Anthony, I think you have interesting parents.”

“Weird is more like it,” Anthony Aardvark Arborghast said.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Imperfect, the Spoonseat (‘Ulysses’ pages 620-670)

Photo of a school of fish
by Lance Anderson/Unsplash

Imperfect, the spoonseat:
wooden profundity,
metamorphoses to inverted basket.

Possible amusement:
fish on bicycles
excelled in world’s wheels games.
Power race!

Theoretical catastrophe:
Harry cut time,
making hour suppressed.

Turningpoint of nightblue atmosphere:
luminous constellations rendered unstable.
space furled, unfolded in design.
Inverted days!
Unhooked minutes!

Parrot countrybound:
course to discovery.

Onions Ramble, Squabbling (‘Ulysses’ pages 517-565)

A person dressed all in black and masked is holding a golden crown
by Lians Jadan/Unsplash

Onions ramble, squabbling,
carries wise dog
that thought,
I smells peaches. Yumyum!

Whokilla the laughing king?
Onions?
Noise?
Jauntyhatted cavaliers?
Groangrousegurgling sailor from Dalkey?

Sending police:
the ickylickysticky mystery,
thick afraid for country,
provokes gallows.
Deathflower for king.

Police revealing townsmen
towards witness.
Muttering citizen:
“Virag looms, tinkling secret.”

Reafforest Spare Earth (‘Ulysses’ pages 313-362)

Photo of a thick forest with lots of trees
by Brian Kimble/Unsplash

Reafforest spare earth—
land is embroidered with broadleaved life.

Pigeon changed to dragons,
rising out pigeonhouse!
Terrifying!

The stormtossed lass whispered strange blue.
Believe in jaspberry voices
pronouncing “Puffpuff.”
Meaning: “Nature, tingling,
sang heartbroken seashore.”

Beauty was green wood wonder.
Molly had dolphin’s secrets
and knew trees:
daughters of seabirds.

copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Piano Lovesoft Music (‘Ulysses’ pages 262-312)

Photo of piano, with a window in the background -- and a yard can be seen through the window.
by Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash

Piano lovesoft music,
chords played florid Eden.

Hear shell: luguguubrious curlycues.
Beauty of deep moved song:
tap tip prrprr!

Chicken agreed with
superabundance of fear:
hid from rhino,
questioned snivelling barbers.
Resulting mollycoddle, deafening stinkpots.

Invigorating act starts courage—
hope/health happens heart!
Hearty tigers be in us.
Skies in music waves.

copyright © 2021 Dave Williams