Saturday, August 15, 2009

Street Puppet

In the middle of Swanston Street
in wires of rain, cross-walk lights,
a puppet skips over puddles.
In a cache of strings, a jiggled turn, a rise of torso.
The wooden man is small, barefoot, slightly
hidden under quivering shadows. The puppeteer
assures him there is no danger, as he guides
his puppet through the sidewalk crush
lifting his blue tattoos to the sky.

On the pavement, two living beings
tap out the rhythm of the dance;
the puppet in ragged pants, too short for winter,
the man alone, working the soles of his feet.
The streets are filled with emotion, shoppers
grazing the silent puppet,
as if he is one more obstacle to pass.
There is no enthusiasm for tiny legs
barely touching the ground.
No applause for the man who brings the circus
right up to the people.

Why, in the middle of a crowd,
doesn’t he lift weights?
Why doesn’t he rotate the sky
with Juggling Clubs or Knives?
Why doesn’t he pass a hat
when no one gives anything?


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Helen Hagemann's first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. 'of Arc & Shadow' is her second full collection published by Sunline Press. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @​​docs/joyous_lake/


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