The Dead Frog Circus, 1927

By John Popielaski

Even naturalists who practice taxidermy

with an artistry that draws the dead back

stiffly to this life experience the blues.


It may have started as an accident,

a foreleg kinked akimbo when a bowtie-

loving colleague burst in or a hind leg

bent unnaturally by the eruption

of the morning’s first sneeze, sudden, seismic,

but it blossomed into something

of a soul pursuit that shooed the gloom

of wintering in Holyoke again.


A purist might perceive the dead frog posed

as a trapezist on his acrobatic way

to somersault above a bug-eyed crowd

of dead frogs seated in the bleachers

as a clear sign of a sick mind crying out

to some authority for help.


However that may be, it is a fact

that those who used to curate in the glum

museum where the oddity was housed

decided after visitors as fragile

as the late Victorians complained

of nausea at the sight of such

perversity, decided, I remind you,

that the world did not need such

and so it should be closeted, a memory

that those who cared to could pass down

to give a sense to later ages

of a strangeness that was not designed

to ever be exhibited.


Some of John Popielaski’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barnwood, Cave Wall, The Dark Horse, The Hollins Critic, and Post Road. Also, his chapbook O, Captain appeared from The Ledge Press in 2008.

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