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

Carnival Pitches

The guy in the cage
with the painted face and overalls
taunts us to try to knock him down,
throw a ball at the circle target,
a hit would drop his seat and
plunge him into the water tank,
which may or may not quiet him.

The guessing man calls out to test his guesses:
your weight, your age, or birthday month.
I’m guessing the most popular choice
is birthday month, since you’d be sharing
your answer on a microphone,
with lots of people walking by.
If he’s wrong, you get your pick of a prize.

Prizes are all around:
colorful stuffed animals
hanging from booths where
game vendors also call out:
try to climb Jacob’s Ladder, shoot
out the red star, pop a balloon, swish
a basketball. “It only costs a dollar,”
they say, and “just take a gander
at these wonderful prizes.”

I play some games, but I don’t
knock down all the stacked cans,
and the rings don’t land on the pegs.
I’m disappointed by not winning
at least one of the stuffed animals,
with their friendly smiling smiles.
But then I ride the Ferris wheel
and the turning swings ride and
the tall slide and much more, and
smiling smiles are on my face.

Sure, it would’ve been neat to win
a stuffed buddy, but when I return home
and hug my stuffed buddies,
the disappointment is gone
and the day is complete.

Copyright © 2020 Dave Williams. Included in my book, The Dancing Fish.