Sideshow

Philip Appleman

OK, Life, you with the grinning clown face,
I know I’m not the main attraction here,
and of course you’ve slapped me around,
whacked me with bladders,
booted my behind—
but I want you to know
that after all those pratfalls,
I’ve finally got used to your jabs,
your tweaks, your pinches, and—
are you ready for this?
I forgive you.
Because
sometimes on hazy afternoons I’ll hear
the terrible keening of houseflies,
and a tragic crow will conjure up
all those broken stones in Rome,
and maybe
someone special will glance at me
and look quickly away—
and in that one dagger-deep moment,
Life, you sadistic old joker, I realize
how much I’d miss you
if you turned up missing.

Philip Appleman

Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University Philip Appleman has published eight volumes of poetry, including New and Selected Poems, 1956–1996 (University of Arkansas Press, 1996), three novels, including Apes and Angels (Putnam, 1989), and several nonfiction books, including the widely used Norton Critical Edition of Darwin. His Perfidious Proverbs and Other Poems: A Satirical Look at the Bible will be published by Prometheus Books in July.


OK, Life, you with the grinning clown face, I know I’m not the main attraction here, and of course you’ve slapped me around, whacked me with bladders, booted my behind— but I want you to know that after all those pratfalls, I’ve finally got used to your jabs, your tweaks, your pinches, and— are you …

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