Staged Under a Striped Tent

The Circus Tent II, by Timmy on flickr

The Circus Tent II, by Timmy on flickr

The world, it’s been said and oft-repeated, is a stage.

I too am one such a player – a masked pretender cued by the reflection my audience mirrors back to me.

But I am also a writer – one who has further played the role of poet, at one time or other.  I have characterized my own self, as well as my personal stage where the show goes on.

Last week, when I wrote about the show Orphan Black, and how Sarah is my favourite of all the clones who resemble her, I explained my preference as a matter of admiration:

I always appreciate characters who can seamlessly fit themselves into any circumstance alongside others, for I’m not always so seamless in my own life, and often feel the need to pretend to be someone else to navigate situations effectively – something I’ve over the years come to refer to as pulling a rabbit out of my hat.

The origins of my rabbit-out-of-my-hat analogy – all but forgotten until the sudden return of the turn-of-phrase to a written state, whence it began, was poem I wrote back in 2006 during my angsty late-20s.

As I have slowly been resurrecting my old poems as situations warrant, so too am I now giving this one new life.

A life – as I envision mine – under the Big Top.


How amazing I would be, were I more like you;
With your power to draw me out as an ace,
Or an ass,
Alternately from within your sleeves;
And slide me back together again
After sawing my center with a blade
Barely sharp enough to break the skin.
I can’t even pull a rabbit out of my hat
Each time it’s time to perform;
Yet here I am with my head in the mouth of a lion.
Here I am playing with fire.


(Inspired in part by Dead Can Dance, The Carnival is Over, 1993.)

(Image source #1 and #2)

4 thoughts on “Staged Under a Striped Tent

  1. People often hold us in far higher esteem than we hold ourselves. I’ve found this out a number of times over the years. This is probably one of those times for you.

    I’m curious. Was the target of your poem a real person, or people in general?


    • People often hold us in far higher esteem… This is very true, and something I too have been the object of over the years. It has taught me two things:

      1) To not be dismissive or falsely humble of people’s praise and esteem, but rather to give it as a gift and accept it in the spirit it’s given, and
      2) To not be stinting in my praise and esteem of others, and rather than fearing coming across as weird or fawning or whatever, to always honour the feeling (and the person) by expressing it.

      When I first wrote the poem, I had a specific person in mind. But as I was rewriting it to post, it shifted in my mind to be about all people in general, and that’s the way I now interpret it.

      Happy Memorial Day. 🙂


  2. I’ve never heard of this video before but I’m sitting here listening and thinking ‘where has this music been all my life!’ it’s beautiful.

    I love your poem. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger and haven’t touched it for years, you’ve inspired me 🙂


    • Dead Can Dance is a wonderful group, Dianne, formed in your neck of the woods (Melbourne) in 80s before relocating to London. The group combines two of the most distinctive singing voices I’ve ever heard, those of Lisa Gerrard (who you might recognize from the haunting soundtrack to the movie Gladiator), and Brendan Perry, who sang the lead on this song. Another Perry-led song (this one more upbeat) from this same album (Into the Labyrinth) that I really like is called “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”; you should YouTube it.

      I’m glad you like my poem, thanks so much. I haven’t written any new poetry in a long time myself. I keep saying that I want to, but just don’t seem to find myself inspired in that regard. If you write some, I hope you share it with us! 🙂


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