so the thing’s all worn and wiggled and it’s saturnine
and rather sad and the dionysian thing
has worn itself out, worn its happy nose to a bare nubbin:
when you squeeze that red thing it won’t go honk,
and the clown’s face is sad, beneath all that white paint,
that big white face, those big red lips, those big blue eyes
and those big red cheeks:
they’re all so fake and flimsy that a thousand carnival barkers
can’t keep it afloat.
sinky sinky, he’s morphine sinky and his eyes are all all a’brim,
all a’brim with sink tears and before he’s done,
a drowned clown. how sad.
how’d he get to this sorry state, this Ukrainian clown?
well, a voice spoke to him, calling:
huddle now, you yearning pumpkins, to be free
or something: and these words:
these happy, deceptive words, these utterly mercurial words
(disappearing quicksilver down the drain)
did fry and frizzle around the edges of his brain,
his hot griddle-pan head,
possessing him with dreams of the Western Lands,
those magical lands where the sun comes to rest.
words which burned acid holes in his brain,
leadpoisoning holes, that rotted his brain
with dreams of hope and glory and money.
and all his electrochemical wiggles danced in one direction then.
he was crazy as a cart-horse then, with his dreams of the West.
so as a cart-horse he came, and as a cart-horse he stayed,
and wicked wise old men came at him,
rode his back with carrots and sticks
and measuring tapes and forms filed in triplicate,
garbage heaps and dirty wonderful words, tv,
beautiful women he would never have, beautiful cars
he would never drive, beautiful houses he would never,
not ever, live within. beware them, cart-horse clown!
beware those secret ghosts who steal your soul,
your happiness and hope, your delirium and dream!
you’re smarter than that, you’re not that silly:
don’t let those olde money cats count you out: jump in that heap of sorrow and they’ll be at you,
eating your weeping and your sorrow: jigging on your grave.
but he died inside when his dreams flew away and vultures
squatted around his bed, a cardboardbox with tv and glue.
but then cheap, sharp moments filled his head with damaged joy.
and that was that.
I guess I had a sense, even in my idealistic youth, that the US of A wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Why Ukrainian? I don’t know. I’d been reading a lot of Russian literature I think.