The Circus Lion’s Lament

By Michael Derrick Hudson

Featured Art: Circus Clown and Dancer by Marc Chagall

So what happened? I used to be a lion, crashing
the herd and yanking down stampeding

zebras on the hoof. Days spent pissing hot gold

across the Serengeti! The ground gone tawny
with my scat! Those long afternoons

of fly-blown torpor, those gristly jawfuls of prey

and those after-fuck yawns. At night, snoozing
into my paws, I’d twitch and thump

the muscular scourge of my dreaming tail . . .

But Emily the Elephant jerks my chain, suggests
my ferocious howls lack plausibility

or conviction. O how I howl! I can rend the air

with lost prerogatives! Demolish the audience
with has-been imperium! I worry

and tooth the Ringmaster’s splintery stool. Dolts

applaud. Clowns in a jalopy lampoon
terror, hitched to their posse of sidekick knuckle-

draggers waddling away in diapers and tuxedos . . .

Come night, I’ll sniff the corners for what’s left
of my petrified stink, the proof

I somehow still exist. Breakfast’s tossed in at six.


Michael Derrick Hudson lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Boulevard, Columbia, Fugue, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Triggerfish Critical Review and Washington Square. He was co-winner of the 2014 Manchester Poetry Prize. His poems won The Madison Review 2009 Phyllis Smart Young Prize, River Styx 2009 International Poetry Contest, and the 2010 and 2013 New Ohio Review contests.


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