My father had the mild manner of a florist
He wore a single-breasted dark-blue
serge suit closely buttoned
trousers without cuffs and F.W. Woolworth stockings
concealed under high shoes.
He had a sensitive drained face
the face of a small boy lost on the Fairgrounds
after everyone has gone home. Dusk is falling
The circus tents are being taken down
and he comes across on the wet sawdust behind a billboard
the Tattooed Man taking a pee.
Oh you sad New England towns!
Bellrica, Bellows Falls
Naugatuck Nashua Bridgeport Providence.
Even the circus animals are depressed
as they are led down your Mainstreet at 2 a.m.
on the way in from the switchyards.
At the sight of your grey monuments
the elephants hang their heads in shame.
–from Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train, by Robert Nichols, published by City Lights Books in 1962