Elephants lumber out, the eldest

hauling Shiva’s lingam, trailed by one touting a bucket

to douse the lingam and another with a vermillion powdered pouf

to anoint the deity. Leaning forward on majestic trunks,

they kneel, bow and offer coconuts

The youngest overturns buckets, sprays water

and will not listen to the drunken potbellied man with a stick

fed up with these antics. Tail to trunk,

out of the circle, all follow the eldest trailing incense

Except for the runt who veers off

with clowns in pursuit. All part of the puja,

the performance beneath the tent

where a river once ran and yogis hung out

Where the rutted earth stinks of piss


Balanced on the tightrope, a slim girl tosses teacups

onto her head. Below, a midget wipes his snot

on the fallen cups, and tosses them back till they stick


Four white dogs push a barrel

as a dog in a clown suit paces within

A dog on two legs, holding parasol

and purse, steps backward

As she struts and turns, the tiniest of their troupe

jumps through paper hoops


On the trampoline the bowlegged midget bounces



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