about the author

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and currently lives in the D.C. area with her family. Recent chapbooks are forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press, Crisis Chronicles Press, and Shirt Pocket Press. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from Lucky Bastard Press. Recent work can be seen / is forthcoming at Pretty Owl Poetry, Gargoyle, Jet Fuel Review, glitterMOB, Pith, So to Speak, Otis Nebula, Freezeray, Entropy, and Right Hand Pointing. For more, visit:

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Clown Machine 

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

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I cannot keep these killers out, ever.
Like the contraption that
Daedalus built with so
many highs and lows
the crowd screams and cries.
We were all too close to the sun
that day. Madcap monsters
lost control. Like an
overgrown forest, hairy
with limbs, heads
like dead grass, wearing
the same tattered coat,
pat me down, until I
am a polished stone, meant
to ride in an oversized pocket.
This is the work I’ve been
doing all along.
Nature walks with crazies.
On this tour, two clowns
dress like super heroes
but reassure me
they are no heroes.
They handle all of the grocery
shopping themselves.
Money is little teeth.
I need these clouds kept to myself,
I scream at them, cower from
all of the red noses,
glower at these caped imposters,
who try to steal my thunder,
put it in a tiny car, drive it around,
ask me what color my house is.
It’s the yellow one, no blue.
They fury along a breeze that fills
my lungs with a passage somewhere
to something. I expand and contract,
like stomped down funnel cake.
My brow, like their connected
brow, connects to one bowler hat.
They lift all of my marionette strings
with their props, their water
shooting flower baptizes me to unmask.
This counts for something, doesn’t it?

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