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Wailing Wall


Les Saltimbanques (The Acrobats), by Gustave Dore (France) 1874


A balanced art composed to bring

diagonals of blue, soak red,

reflecting acrobatic swing -

but shed composure, fallen, bled.

Sneer ace of spades in circus grin

joins daylight owl awaiting death,

hug leotard, pale second skin

save flush of loins, last bandaged breath.

So close to wight, this white of son,

thin border in this fairground haunt,

witch, cartomante, bohemian,

pietà boy at heart, now taunts.

Juggle the trumpet, tambourine.

last trump to greet with joys or fears,

performance dogs claw, paw with whine,

site sheer flesh costumes, drapes in tears.

Reading their runes, here parents fail,

with tricks of trade done, plain wall-slung,

exquisite laid by wailing veil,

What cost, the moneymaking young?


Published by The Ekphrastic Review, November 2022

Nominated as one of their entries for ‘Best of the Net’ July 2023

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2 Comments


Alison Blevins
Alison Blevins
Aug 17, 2023

As with all your poems I read this several times to pick up all the little nuances and there are so many I like, 'diagonals of blue soak red' really captures the artist behind the painting and 'hug leotard, pale second skin' is another favourite. Thank you stephen

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Unknown member
Aug 13, 2023

This captures the mood of the picture so well, picking up on all the clues. Its such an intimate moment of grief and regret. Love it.

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