Robert Cooperman, 9/2/2019

Current Occupation: House Spouse
Former Occupation: English Teacher
Contact Information: Robert Cooperman's latest collection is THE DEVIL WHO RAISED ME (Lithic Press).  Forthcoming from FutureCycle Press is LOST ON THE BLOOD DARK SEA.  Cooperman's work has appeared in THE CHIRON REVIEW and PLAINSONGS.


Working in the Circus


Our nephew’s summer job is in a circus,

nothing dangerous, thank God, 

like a tightrope walker or lion tamer.  

He takes money and sells crackerjacks,

and has nothing to do with swaying 

forty feet in the air, balancing on the backs 

of fast moving horses, or standing very still 

for the knife thrower, since I still shudder 

about attending the circus years ago, 

with a friend and her small son.  We gaped

at a tight-rope walker teetering high above 

the lion tamer, then the unthinkable: 


the wire snapped, Icarus tumbling into the cage; 

the audience gasped, coiled muscle lunging,

before the tamer—Superman on adrenalin—

hurled the acrobat out of the cage; 

the man staggered, collapsed, attendants 

leading him away, the tamer cracking 

his whip over and over, like Indiana Jones, 

to maneuver those killers into the tunnel.


He bowed deep as a swaggering Musketeer,

and strode from the ring, carefree as a tenor

in an operetta set in the Alps, though 

when he handkerchiefed his forehead,

I saw his hand tremble just the least bit.


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