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       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


    The gaudy costumes on the acrobats
    give Clark ideas, and the strongman's tight spats
    have like appeal, distracting gawkers
    from the face without a mask's awkward
    feel.  A disguise has risks, though.
    Witness the clown with bulbous nose.
    He dances 'round the ring each eve,
    seeking sweet reprieve
    of laughter from his patrons,
    stumbling as he goes.
    They cackle in the stands,
    but, when the show is over
    he'll go home alone, again,
    and there remain.
    He'll wash the makeup off his hands
    and wonder why no one asks his real name.

    From the center ring Mr. Haly's boots,
    their sheen dulled by sawdust, catch Clark's eye,
    but the affected cry "Lay-deez and..."
    sinks in his ear, pushed down by his own name,
    which he hears called from a distance
    by a distressed voice.  Whose?  John Ross'?
    Why?  Swift as an arrow plucked (no: Dante
    so described the skiff Phlegyas rowed!
    I need a more modern metaphor.  Hey...);
    Faster than a speeding bullet (!) Clark races
    from the tent.  'T'would miff the Flying Graysons
    to know a true aerialist has missed their act,
    but they're ignorant of the fact, for Clark flies
    unseen to the cliffhanger panel:

        Eben, unconscious, sprawled
        face-down atop the anvil
        as John Ross, panic-stricken
        struggles to revive him.

    Freeze this frame, reader,
    wonder if Ross is evil.
    Thaw it later,
    after viewing Kara Zor-El
    on the Kryptonian channel. 

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