Ed Shacklee


The Prince of Clowns

i.m. John Whitworth, master of light verse

It wouldn’t do to mourn a prince of clowns
still so alive you’ll do a double take.
He’ll steal your heart and crook the sense in sounds

till what’s seen through his looking glass astounds
and only funhouse mirrors aren’t opaque.
It wouldn’t do, to mourn a prince of clowns

whose ballsy muse deemed nothing out of bounds.
His lines as lithe and wicked as a snake,
he reeled in hearts he’d hook with sensuous sounds,

and charmed us as he juggled verbs and nouns
while throwing curves to shock the dull awake.
It’s even worse, to mourn a prince of clowns

who—bracing, bawdy, daft—erased all frowns.
His mirth so pitiless for pity’s sake,
he peeled the heart and brooked no sense in sounds

as karma, wearing sneakers, made the rounds,
and had us laughing till our hearts would break:
so laugh, although we mourn. This prince of clowns
unsealed the heart and shook the sense from sounds.

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who lives on a boat in the Potomac River. His first collection, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, was published in 2017 by Able Muse Press. (Book review here.) His poems can be found in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light, and Rattle, among other places. If you’re interested, the Facebook Group “The Blind Loon: A Bestiary” can be found here.