Circus Poem

By | 1 November 2019

a brothel run out of an apartment (high-rise on Eglington
those places were asking to be busted, basically, the neighbours
don’t like it); I only worked there a few shifts, later
I saw it in the paper
but for some other crime thing
it had a fountain with no water, a Grecian sculpture
verdigris bowl and circular driveway
cracked, plants grown over. I want to say

the owner had rabbits. I want to
say that but it may not be true. The room floats
not so much hazy as a blown-out photograph
whisked in front of my face repeatedly as I try to glimpse
a cage on the floor
in front of the window/balcony? Hexagonal wire? A cloud of fur?
And an idea
that there was a baby or babies (human ones
that is), rather than an image of it/them, was this

this apartment, or some other? Trying
to get to the truth
of images like this, it doesn’t
get you anywhere but the itch, once scratched, hard
to leave alone and you think (little addict you)
this time (maybe) you’ll get through…these images
I can no more control when they come as I could
the impulse to take that first drink
a hallway arrives

and a room on the right, a futon, a man
in a checkered jacket, oranges and browns
a gold necklace snaking in a nest of chest chair
acne scars along cheekbones like cordilleras, musta

given him my number because later we’d meet at his donut store
and he’d drive us to his house in Scarborough
(his wife visited her mother on weekends)
pictures of the wife, mermaid-long hair and flawless
almond eyes, why would he cheat on her with me
I thought, and felt embarrassed about
that aspect? (Yeah I know); this man

one of those who liked to tell me how much money he had
pull out hunks of silver and gold, shove watches under my nose
gesture at dining room table candelabras; affix
dollar amounts. His low-roofed house cluttered
as a tchotchke emporium
he never tipped me
and often counted out the last ten in loonies and toonies. You

are the best
he’d tell me…for sex
and with that pause there, every time, I thought maybe
meant to be half a sentence
e.g. You are the best, for sex, BUT
no good for x, y, z…?
But he never added anything so maybe

just mantra/reassurance: that I was money well-allocated
the best product at the best price. I
smiled and laughed (of course). This may have been the extent
of our conversation. He liked
to sit with me in the donut store before we went to his house
wanted his employees to see me
he said, for them to know he had a mistress
(if they thought he was paying me that was fine too
I think, maybe better, not sure), well
they didn’t appear interested in anything their boss was doing

one time I showed up in a leather jacket I’d found at
Kensington Market, totally funky, oversize with square pockets
motley like peeling paint
or desert topographies
he went straight to the car (an SUV, I want to say beige
a flash of beige coffee cup holders; is that real? was that
this SUV?) well
he motioned for me to get in. No mistress of mine

he said, should wear rags like that. I felt red and hot
arrows and pinned to the seat, mumbling apologies
into my lap. I hated
to displease anyone, especially in person. I had fewer

problems with disappearing however, so later I stopped
answering his calls. The whole rigmarole
as I saw it, took a lot of time, and he only ever paid me for an hour

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