Here We Go A’ Wordling

15 Apr

I know, I know: dark. But, this is a poem; not one of the group I am working on, but a good stretcher. I am allowed to post poems while dark!

My process doesn’t change for Wordles, so I won’t keep describing it. What I looked at here was structural. I thought I would like semi-colons at the end of each stanza to link the five acts, but am not sure if that works. I am also looking at the possibility of another motif that brings in sound imagery.

Side Show

A murmur of awe and repulsion rises
from the group as, after a dramatic pause,
sword tip to tongue, the blade sheaths
home in the Sword Swallower’s throat;

a smaller number of people stands before
the Siamese Twins, conjoined at the hip.
A richer blend of DNA, they require the barest
glance before flexible movements;

one or two boys gawk at the Bearded Lady.
A sweet smile appears between luxurious
mustache and neatly trimmed beard,
an exchange of hormones, tricks of nature;

the Strongman gathers a circle of young
men flexing muscles. He stands, building
energy for the forceful pull push required
to lift the weighted dumbbell above his head;

the largest crowd stands in front of the man
whose legend proclaims him a Fire Breather.
They wait for him to tip his head up, open
his mouth and exhale flames skyward.

You can find other poems, as well as the list of words, at Brenda’s The Sunday Whirl.

Happy reading and writing. See everyone Friday.


Posted by on 15/04/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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46 responses to “Here We Go A’ Wordling

  1. anl4

    15/04/2012 at 10:58 am

    A lovely gathering before all that is strange, good thing ‘strange’ is limited to the fair! In a small town, tokens must be given before it is seen, otherwise it is not seen.

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 11:08 am

      Good Morning, annell! I was thinking of the small town travelling circus, which has never died out, despite the’big boys’. Tokens. Hmmm. I might work that in.

  2. brenda w

    15/04/2012 at 11:27 am

    Margo, sideshows fascinate and repulse… They are both sides of the same coin…fasination/repulsion. That is clear from my response to your piece. I like the semi-colons; they bring that continuity you want.

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 11:30 am

      Brenda, I think, I’m sure, that is why people go to them, stop by accidents, watched hangings, in the old days… all those things which repel us, have an element of fascination. Maybe curiosity, instead? Now I have to go look up the etymology of fascinate!

  3. nan

    15/04/2012 at 11:42 am

    Dark for sure, but this is a perfect fit for the creepy phenomenon that is the circus. In the early days of Big Tent Poetry, I wrote a few circus poems that were similarly themed… depressing to me to think that the other side of repulsion is fascination.

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 11:50 am

      Nan, the more I think about it, the more the circus embodies all that is in us that is not terribly attractive. I tracked fascinate and its origins have to do with witches and spells, and later, an attraction [not necessarily positive] towards something.

  4. vivinfrance

    15/04/2012 at 12:05 pm

    A taste of Barnum and Bailey. I wouldn’t bother with a sound image – this is wonderfully visual.

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 3:45 pm

      Thank you, ViV. I shall leave as is.

  5. Daydreamertoo

    15/04/2012 at 12:10 pm

    I agree, sideshows like this both fascinate and repulse people. I always felt so sad for these people, like the bearded lady and such. Years ago I watched the movie of ‘The Elephant man’ We always tend to mock and ill treat that which we don’t understand. At first I was repulsed by his grotesque face and body but, when we humanise people and see past their odd looks we do learn that even ugly has its own beauty too. I cried at the end of the movie when he died. People feared him and the reality was, he was so scared of them.
    Great wordle Margo 🙂

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 3:48 pm

      Ddt, it is fear that underlies almost all our undesirable behaviour. Teaching literature I came quickly to the realization that fear arising from lack of knowledge lay behind almost all despicable, undesirable acts. Knowledge is miraculous in what it does to erase fears.

  6. Marianne

    15/04/2012 at 12:29 pm

    I finally watched Water For Elephants a few weeks ago. A spectacular book and movie. Your poem is spectacular, too. I like the strong imagery in each stanza. It seems the circus is a place for misfits to fit in, like Reality TV today! And I liked your use of the semi-colon.

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 3:50 pm

      I watched a Bones episode a couple of days ago, Marianne, which took place in a circus. The closed nature of their society was a main focus. If they felt like misfits, it would be natural that they would turn to each other and keep the rest out.

  7. Mary

    15/04/2012 at 2:49 pm

    Margo, you have made the characters in the sideshow live. I liked the details you gave about each one of them. (I have never really seen a sideshow, nor do I wish to.)

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you, Mary. That’s an interesting point you raise. I sat and thought a while about whether I would want to see a sideshow. I think I would have to be assured that the participants participate willingly, with knowledge of people’s possible reactions, and a healthy enough self-esteem that they aren’t bothered. I think this means I won’t be going to any sideshows.

  8. JulesPaige

    15/04/2012 at 3:42 pm

    I remember going to some of this as a tween in the bumpkins country side, where I suspect the fascination/repulsion was a big factor to folks that, especially then (forty some odd years ago) didn’t travel much and let such phenomenon come to them. As an adult seeing the truths and myths surrounding some of the human oddities and tricks. I also thought of the Phantom of the Opera…misfit of nature.

    Interesting how the word’ fascinate’ traces to witches and spells, because even the early naturalists who understood how nature worked were deemed foul and labeled ‘bad’ because others, the majority both did not know or want to know the scientific truths. Egads…I babbled on. Nice write!

  9. The Happy Amateur

    15/04/2012 at 4:02 pm

    This is incredibly vivid, and to me it was scary as well, because I felt it pulling me into its orbit, and I couldn’t resist that pull, although instinctively I wanted to leave. I really think you’ve stirred some dark things that live in each of us and are ready to take control if we let them do so.

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 4:15 pm

      Like Lord of the Flies, Sasha. I agree with Golding that the dark thing you mention is part of all of us and that fear and lack of knowledge and knowing is what raises it. Not nice to think about but necessary to know, yes?

  10. daphnepurpus

    15/04/2012 at 4:08 pm

    You have really captured what I imagine a sideshow to be like and it is powerful. I think this is as close as I care to get to the actual thing! Nicely done!

    • margo roby

      15/04/2012 at 4:16 pm

      I know, Daphne! I think a lot of us feel that way now because of our education and societal norms. I was fascinated when this poem appeared in the words.

  11. pmwanken

    15/04/2012 at 4:59 pm

    I haven’t been disappointed in the variety of pieces offered up with this week’s wordle…and yours, margo, has such variety just within itself! 😉 This is one that the wordle words totally disappeared into the piece. Just like any good side show, you were able to focus our attention on what you wanted us to see. 🙂

  12. Pseu

    15/04/2012 at 6:15 pm

    Very interesting use of the words and quite disturbing in its way: in a good way.

    • margo roby

      04/05/2012 at 4:46 pm

      Pseu! Somewhere I lost you in the shuffle. Thank you for your comment.

  13. Bonnee

    15/04/2012 at 8:40 pm

    I love reading about a circus, it’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s always refreshing. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • margo roby

      16/04/2012 at 9:06 am

      You are welcome and thank you, Bonnee.

  14. 1sojournal

    15/04/2012 at 9:20 pm

    Love the vignettes all connected. Wonderful way to use the wordle words. Thanks for visiting,


  15. markwindham

    15/04/2012 at 9:45 pm

    Dark? mmhhmm, yea, sure. 🙂

    I like the carnival motif; the scientific explanations in the middle stanzas are cool, found myself looking for them in the other two. A lot of good sound incorporated, good use of contradictory terms; awe/repulsion, smaller/richer, push/pull.

    Good fun read.

    • margo roby

      16/04/2012 at 9:07 am

      Co-editors: you and Richard. I love that you see what is there and can tell me. Now I’ll go back in and work it.

  16. Hannah Gosselin

    15/04/2012 at 9:58 pm

    So totally vivid, Margo!! Excellent words!

  17. Cheryl's Excellent Adventure

    15/04/2012 at 10:46 pm

    This was a great circus performance wordle. Thanks for the view.

    • margo roby

      16/04/2012 at 9:08 am

      You are welcome, Cheryl, and thank you.

  18. tmhHoover

    15/04/2012 at 11:12 pm

    I am among the several people, who acknowledge never seeing a side show. I shy away from the idea of showcasing oddities. I think the wordle words allowed you to look into a very complex idea. I am always learning from your use of punctuation and structure. My favorite bit was:

    “the Strongman gathers a circle of young
    men flexing muscles. He stands, building
    energy for the forceful pull push required
    to lift the weighted dumbbell above his head.”

    I love the the period after muscles, right in the middle of the line. But even more, I like the way you have the word “building” at the end of the line, with “energy” on the next. As for the semi-colons; I did not know it was possible to use semi-colons at the end of each stanza. So just the possibility, is exiting to me.

    • margo roby

      16/04/2012 at 9:10 am

      Teri, structure through punctuation is one of my faviourite things to play with. The punctuation can say so much and allows us a bigger playing area. Thank you for the comment!

  19. Mr. Walker

    16/04/2012 at 12:34 am

    Margo, I like how you’ve paired who is doing the observing with who is being observed – all the while making us observers of something we may not have chosen in reality. It is dark, but it is also very human.


    • margo roby

      16/04/2012 at 9:11 am

      Thank you, Richard. This one turned out to be more than I expected.


  20. irene

    16/04/2012 at 5:42 am

    I’ve seen them on TV, in a movie, not in a real circus. I like, and remember, a Chinese movie, where these “freaks” use their strengths for a good quest. You’re dark?

    • margo roby

      16/04/2012 at 9:13 am

      Sorry, Irene. I should have given a context. I have gone dark for the rest of April except for Fridays. It’s a theatre term when actors close down a performance for a night.

  21. wordsandthoughtspjs

    16/04/2012 at 6:37 pm

    Margo, I love this poem, even though I am not a fan of the circus. I am terrified of clowns, always have been.


    • margo roby

      17/04/2012 at 7:38 am

      Pamela, that is a whole ‘nother topic, the clown thing. There is even a name for it as it’s a recognised phenomenon. I may read up on it. The circus is a rich resource!

  22. purplepeninportland

    17/04/2012 at 5:01 pm

    Margo, what a great use of the prompt. Unique and broken up perfectly.


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