Julene Waffle

In the Dog Days

the circus will crawl
out of the heat, railway tired,
but they will raise their circus town
regardless, one tent, one lumbering
elephant, one trapezist at a time.

The feral boys and their dogs
will stop their swimming and tree climbing.
They’ll spy from behind
barns and trees and buildings
to reenact their own parades,
stomp their own feet like bears,
clown themselves, bang
metal pans, and blow
on an Original Tin Kazoo,
a stocking gift from Christmas.

And then after the ringmaster,
the clowns, the horses,
after the man in the cannon
and lions, and all the cotton candy
the boys could eat,
they will go home to their super
and mothers and chores of sweeping
the porch and taking the trash to the street.

Perhaps they’ll read a comic book
by flashlight under a tent of sheets next
or decode a secret message
from Little Orphan Annie.

But when yawn subsides to yawn
under a cotton moon, they will braid
themselves into their sheets
in the sticky evening or drag a pillow
onto the floor under an open window
and fall asleep, adrift in dreams
of hooves and hoops and hopes
of doing it all again tomorrow.