two from the workbook


Xavier St John Brown
notorious circus clown
of edgily comic renown
disappears unexpectedly one night
in a cloud of confetti in a vicious clown fight
the ringmaster puts on the tent lights
they search the caravans, the grounds
but St John Brown
is nowhere to be found
all that’s left of him
is his tartan yellow hat with a brim
and his famous pair of yellow sneakers
with their horribly amplified squeakers
Fifty years later
a bunch of phi beta kappa
from St John’s alma mater
take a bet
to be the first ones yet
to spend the whole night
in a tent on the site
of St John’s disappearance
they immediately get interference
on their cell phones
a strange, squeaking tone
that gives them the heebie-jeebies
but they put down to wifi and 3Gs
as the night wears on
they get taken one by one
each in a way that’s both ghoulish
and foolish
the only one who survives
is plucky Helen McGyves
who forces a laugh
when he starts his mime about a bath
St John bows, and cries
and struggles to wipe his eyes
with a tissue that turns into a line of flags
and suddenly the tent sags
and Helen dives
as the cops arrive
but when they tentatively lift the flap
the chief of police takes off his cap
I guess you’d say that clown was evil
but we’ll know a lot more when they make the sequel


A secret military facility
gets breached unwittingly
by Lucy, a virology professor
lost in bad weather
who gets infected by a virus
that makes her titanically toothy and fibrous
more consumed with rage
than just about any professor I know of her age
she goes on the rampage
tossing down troops and tanks
who might as well be firing blanks
till the city gets saved
by a particularly brave
doctoral intern
called Vern
who survives just long enough
to mix something strong enough
to bring Lucy back
from this viral attack
before they all get juiced
by the warheads let loose
from megalomaniacal General Scrutton
raging all day with his finger on the button

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