The Sex Lives of Clowns

By Erica Bernheim


Oh the unexpected way
in which we grow accustomed
to the loss of metallic weight,
steeled by love, something flutters
not in my chest, but here, here
is where my sickness falls from
its trees, my glaucous inflorescence
leaves its leaves, traces everywhere
and is no more fashionable than
your mother’s angora.

If not for this rain of diamonds,
we could be on Neptune, dodging
air that weighs upwards and promises
new roads and doesn’t deliver. Oftentimes,
the hands of children smell of wooden
benches you could lick safely and
make rude gestures in the mornings
there; you could flannel words through
counterfeit bricks. They are colder than weather.
The night is conducive.

Rarely are the unfortunate so lovely
as their penance. It is too late. Like you,
they’re infamous and cold-blooded, eyes
like neon, flashing open, flashing open,
daring you to look away. You love them.
They never change. Puffy under the skin,
necks surprisingly slender, infinitesimally small
ways of picking up on change. They become
preoccupied with speed, with leaves in sick.

In Venice, the boats would take you
home. In Chicago, I take you.
You will find them, better than
mimes, furiously pacing, chewing
on wires fit only for small landfills. Oh,
how they suspend desire, child-like poses,
words so fancy, and something gaping
at you in the darkness afterwards. There is little
to laugh at, and less in the way of beauty.

Things like this and clowns are everywhere.
I am trapped in Chicago, veering from Noble
to Division, or meaning to veer. Because
I do not know, there are things like clowns,
the sky hollowing itself from the sweatiest crevasse. 
Everything burns which leaves.
The skyline repeats, I am taken lightly. I am
taken lightly. Remember me as
this punchline: a man walks in and says nothing.

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Copyright© 2003 by Erica Bernheim.

Photo: Erica Bernheim.

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