The Natural

This is an image post. Inspiration for this sketch came from this image.

The Natural has been working this job for a long, long time.
Every night for centuries, a little bit of razzle dazzle.
The murmur of the crowd, the impatience, the boredom.
The moment — just one, but that’s enough — of silence.

The Natural straightens its hat and licks an eyebrow smooth.
The Natural lets its eyes loose to check the line of its high-collared coat.
The Natural gives one last shine to its buttons.
The Natural squares its shoulders and spreads the curtains wide.

The Natural owns this space, owns the cheapness of it, the tackiness.
Stale perfume, dirty shirts, the crinkle of cellophane.
Reek of sex under bleachers, boozy piss, chewing gum and graffiti.
The Natural keeps it all written down.
The Natural remembers.

The Natural spreads the joy of music.
The Natural can’t stop dancing.
The Natural lifts its feet and rises through the air.
The Natural moves in and out of the crowd like a shark.

The Natural is tired of war.
Always fighting somewhere, always hating, always killing.
The Natural remembers a better time.
Children don’t know what’s hard and what’s easy, but the Natural knows.

The Natural can feel the crowd going restless.
Peaks and valleys, it wears them on its skin.
The Natural slides its sleeves back.
The moment — just one, but that’s enough — of silence.

Finding Mrs. Calabash

All he wanted to do was make people laugh.
Nobody realized he was the worst comedian in the world.
Sometimes he had his doubts, but he carried on.
There was always someone who laughed during his act.
They weren’t laughing with him, but that was something, right?

It wasn’t that he wasn’t funny.
But the quips that were screamingly insightful in conversation died on the stage.
It wasn’t even that his jokes were bad.
He stole shamelessly from other, funnier comedians.
He practiced his timing in the mirror until he was pitch perfect.
Nothing worked.

In desperation he went to an old Roma woman and asked for advice.
“Let me hear your stuff, kid,” she said. “Hit me with your worst shot.”
He told her his least favorite joke.
She howled with laughter.
He told her his best joke.
She nearly passed out from laughing so hard.

Six months later they were married.
He was still the worst comedian in the world.
But she was the best audience in the world, so it all balanced out.


The people of the north are long-fingered and dark.
Their bones are hollow.
Their eyes are large and sensitive poet’s eyes.
Their wings are seven feet from tip to tip.
Their feet are clever.

Aleeloo works in the freak show.
He sits in his booth while the marks shuffle past.
He broods silently or glides ponderously from perch to perch.
Between shows he plays cards with the midget twins and the mermaid.
The mermaid always wins.

He never remembers his dreams.
He dreams of his parents, of cities filled with his people.
He dreams of slender towers and skies filled with six months of light.
Of shouts of delight and tournaments of poetry and courtship.
He remembers only the ache of homesickness.

In New York he slips away.
He pays $20 to ride to the top of the Empire State Building with the rest of the marks.
At the top he leans out over the railing and lets the wind carry him up and out over the city.
He rides the wind like the memory of home.


An asteroid crashes down in the middle of southern Illinois and a virus escapes into the public. It rewinds the cultural clock!
It’s suddenly the early 1950s for everyone!

Men all have sensible haircuts!
Women all wear aprons, even to wife-swapping parties!
Teenagers say things like, “Ah, so’s your old man!” and “It’s trad, dad,” and are generally agreed to be Up To No Good!
Everyone smokes – even in hospitals!
All the cars are cool looking again!

Everyone agrees this is for the best!
Minorities go back to being jazz musicians and menial labor!
Women sigh in relief and stop working or wanting sex!
Little kids love being beaten!
Homosexuals simply cease to exist!
Handicapped people enjoy their new, homebound lives!
No one thinks about Canada anymore!

Public whistling becomes a nuisance!
Gang wars break out over the Homeowner’s Agreement!
Huge, tacky holiday decorations are erected aggressively!
Lawns are torched in retaliation!
Housewives gossip maliciously!
Children take their gloves and go home spitefully!
Everything is going fine until the newly reformed Soviet Union drops seven hundred atomic bombs on North America!

Buzz Buzz

In the night the noise of crickets.
Outside the firelight the noise of crickets.
They put their backs to the fire and stare out at the darkness.
They look up at the stars and think of many things.
And in the night the noise of crickets.

They curl into a sleeping bag together.
Mouths press against skin, legs cross over legs.
Fingers catch in their hair, pull back, lengthen their necks.
They breathe together, paced to each other.
And in the night the noise of crickets.

They talk to each other in the space of the tent.
Their voices pressed soft into the pillow.
They murmur their names, their secrets, their secret names.
Hands busy and slow miles away from their voices.
And in the night the noise of crickets.

They die a little that night.
Die again and again, rattling deep in their chests.
Each death is a death, each death a rebirth.
Their eyes are heavy with sleep but time is short.
And outside the crickets are silent.

In the morning birdsong and movement.
The fire is cold, the ashes are cold, the air of the tent is cold.
Inside they are twined together again.
Inside they are unmoving.
Inside they are still, perfectly still, and lifeless.
And outside the morning has come.