This is the devil’s circus, these gritty streets
Where the syringes drop and the trash flows,
Where the mothers turn in their last food stamps
At discounted prices, three to one,
For a dime rock, a nickel bag, a trip to forgetfulness
While the babies cling to their stained skirts,
Sucking on their dirty thumbs to keep hunger
At bay, because momma’s gotta have that high.
These are the grotesque caricatures
Of life in this devil’s playground,
Bullet casings, and discarded condoms
Sprinkled amidst the diamond sparkles
Of broken auto glass on the side of the road
Where the winos get rolled in their sleep
One desperate fool stealing pocket change
From another after the big money
From the beginning of the month
Has been spent to chase the demons
That torment them in their wakefulness.
The devil’s circus where the poor juggle
All their needs and have to choose between
Meat for dinner or keeping the lights on,
Between bus fare to keep tat McJob
And school lunch money for the kids
Who will also need feeding next week.
In this circus, the Man is the lion tamer
Dispensing his powders at
Milk out of the baby’s mouth prices
To keep the beasts in their place, tame
And the Ringmaster of them all is the official on the take,
Swinging his weight around and breaking the heads
Of those who can’t kick in to his retirement fund,
His vacation home or his mistress’ upkeep.
Here they all are Clowns, shedding fake tears
In the hopes of getting pity from their audience.
Here the only admission to the side-show is to be poor
And to be less than the owners of the big tent.
Here death waits around the corner and you can die
With a big smile on your face before you are ready,
Or you can die with a bullet hole in your head
But you sure can’t die as people were meant to.
OLGA CANDELARIO is an immigrant who has lived in the greater
OLGA has written poetry since she was a child. As an adult she became involved with the Online Poets of AOL where she has been electronically published. This reignited her love of writing and more recently her work has been published in Peregrine as well as in several poetry journals.
She has participated in various creative writing workshops and has been certified by Amherst Writers and Artists to lead creative writing workshops. She has been facilitating workshops for Voices from Inside since 2000.