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Son of a Circus Clown-Fiction by Kip Hanson
Blinders-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Run, Robby, Run, Part 1_Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
707-1900-Fiction by Sean Daly
Bloodbath in a Vegas Firestorm-Fiction by J. Brooke
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The Opposite of Dreams-Fiction by Beau Johnson
An Editor's Rejection Mistake-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Dig-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
Alibi, Inc.-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
A Slave to My Passion-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
The Beckoning-Poem by Michael Keshigian
and so, naked us-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
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last journal entry-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
the story to here-Poem by Meg Baird
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mon amie/my friend-Poem by Meg Baird
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Tunnels and the Man-Poem by John Grey
His Body Dug Up from Your Garden-Poem by John Grey
Deuce-Poem by Sanjeev Sethi
Maxilla-Poem by Sanjeev Sethi
Resume-Poem by Sanjeev Sethi
Desperate for Entertainment-Poem by Michael Marrotti
Poetry in Need-Poem by Michael Marrotti
One Man Can Only Take So Much-Poem by Michael Marrotti
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Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Bryan Cicalese

Son of a Circus Clown


Kip Hanson


My father loves children. Everybody knows that, even the Elephant Man, and Helga the Armless Wonder. He loves their sticky smell, their laughter and limitless potential. One night after too many beers, the Great Zambini said that my father must have been a nursemaid in a past life, or perhaps a pediatrician. In this life however, the one we currently inhabit, he is Binky the Clown.

Binky loves the circus too, but not as he does the boys and girls who come to see him here, to cheer his name and laugh at his foolish antics. And he loves his little car. It hurts his back something fierce, but still, he lives for the applause of the crowd as he climbs impossibly forth three times a day from within the car’s cramped interior. That car is my father’s five minutes.

He tried one time to be Binky the Rodeo Clown. He enjoyed the self-importance that came with rescuing the cowboys from bulls and runaway broncos, yet he soon gave it up. There were too few children at the rodeo. The best Binky could hope for were teenagers, no longer innocent or pure. No, the circus is where my father belongs.

I don’t see him much. Not unless he’s in the ring, juggling soccer balls while on a unicycle, or driving that car of which he’s so proud. At those times, that man is no longer my father; he is Binky the Clown, and oh how the children laugh.

Most Sundays we have dinner together: leftover pronto pups and deep-fried cheese curds washed down with stale keg beer. We play pinochle for a quarter and talk about the coming week’s performance. I never stay. Soon after his fourth Budweiser, my father reaches behind the couch, pulls out a quart of Knob Creek, and pours himself two fingers. That’s my cue to leave.

I prefer sleeping with the Grimbaldi Twins in their rusty Winnebago, or beneath the Fat Lady’s sagging Airstream. And when the nights grow hot, I go to the big top, where my father earns our keep. Lying there in the exact middle of the center ring, the glittering mechanisms of the trapeze artists dangling over my head, I breathe deeply the sweet smells of camel shit and clean sawdust, and listen to the echoes of the laughing children.

Sometime after midnight, the Barker rolls in from town in his ‘54 Studebaker, a fat prostitute riding shotgun. The sound of the peanut shells beneath his whitewalls is like the crunch of small bones. I watch the shadows on the canvas fade, one spotlight at a time, until finally I can sleep.

Each spring the circus moves on, a caravan of tired helium balloons dragging about the countryside – Memphis, Lansing, unavoidable Poughkeepsie. We load up our gaily-colored tents, our grumpy tigers and pretentious llamas, and hit the road, huge piles of elephant dung and seagull fodder marking the moment of our annual passing. And sometimes, there is other evidence of our passing: small moldering gifts, the leavings of a circus clown.

They found the first body of this year’s season two weeks after we left St. Louis: little Timmy Martin, buried in a landfill. Then came five-year-old Rebecca Forsythe, stuffed in among restaurant leavings in a Montreal dumpster. Her neck was crushed. After that was Bobby Swift, floating in the Ohio River with the last glare of Dayton’s July 4th fireworks celebration twinkling upon his sightless eyes. Melissa Hudson marked the end of our tour, gone missing from her parents’ Labor Day picnic in Atlanta. They’re still searching for her.   

We winter over in Fort Lauderdale, and sometimes Mobile, hibernating among the snowbirds. This is when I love my father most, in the quiet interval between October and March, when the smell of greasepaint fades away and his size 24 shoes grow dusty in the closet.

And when spring comes, I find myself once again with the Great Zambini, hunched over his small black and white TV after each night’s finale. We watch the evening news and listen for reports of missing children, wondering if the loss of a few young circus goers outweighs the happiness Binky provides to the rest.

After fifteen years of watching, I think I finally know the answer, and reach beneath the Great Zambini’s couch. I lift his Korean War issued Colt .45 to my lap, quietly checking that it’s loaded. The old magician is too busy staring at Katie Couric to even notice.

“See you tomorrow, Zam,” I say, and take a long walk around the park to Binky’s trailer. He’s usually home by midnight.

Kip lives in sunny Tucson, where his wife makes him watch Poltergeist while insisting clowns are not scary. You can find his work scattered about the Internet, at Foundling Review, Inkspill, Yellow Mama, Bartleby Snopes, and a few other places, proving that a blind squirrel does occasionally find a nut. When not telling lies, he makes a few bucks cobbling together boring articles for technical magazines.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017