Pride and Avarice
Helen Peterson
Circus tent went up under graying skies mirroring the crowd’s bleak faces; tonight I knew I’d have to pull the laughter out of them. So I start big, plunging my head into the peanut barrel, crowd roaring as I lifted pallid crimson streaked cheeks gorged, to the consternation of pachyderms.
For once the clown was king.
Scanning my subjects my eyes fell on a girl, maybe 19, laughing openmouthed causing my own trunk to trumpet stronger, (hell, longer), than the indignant elephants. A boyfriend, lean and young beside her, caught the gleam in my eye, wrapped his arms around her tight, while staring me down.
That did it.
Sauntered over, leaching out as much time as I could, audience clapping encouragement panic rising in the jerk's eyes with every step, (pretty unsure of himself, threatened by an old circus clown). My sweet never saw me coming, distracted by the pressure of his embrace, unaware she was the object of my affection until my lips, salty— blood red— were upon hers, pink— full candy. Cheers rising around us as that jilted fool tried to push me away. Angered— little worm— only an act, I pushed further, tongue thrusting, reveling as he squirmed while the noise faded, the crowd’s eye drawn to the next ring.
Slow my reaction when her breath turned sour and retching, slow to realize my moment was gone with the kingdom. Not understanding sobbed words like allergy and law suit spewed in my direction as he cradled her, trying to lift her up while at the same time digging in her purse for the epipen . . . too late.
I stood, no one to repent to, a death head staring through Xes as eyes.
Helen is the managing editor of Chopper Poetry Journal out of New London, Ct, and has previously published in Fell Swoop, Right Hand Pointing, Elimae, Haruah, Zygote in My Coffee, Pedestal Magazine (book review), Literary Fever, Debris Magazine, Images Inscript, and Poetrybay. Her work will also be featured in an anthology put out by Poet Plant Press this Fall. She is also co-editing a special issue of Fell Swoop featuring the poets of New London.