And Leave Show Business? - Poem by Ralph Burns
This elephant keeper shoved a hose up
The ass of an elephant every day. He
Told a man. The man said, So why don't
You quit? And the keeper said, You have
To understand: elephant bowels are fragile,
You only spray a little and shit flies
All over. . . .And the man said, I understand,
I think, someone has to, but why don't you
Quit?And the keeper said, And leave show
Business?I don't know who first told me,
You'll die someday, you can't live forever.
I don't know who took my hand and said,
Some things, not all things, are possible.
At a state mental hospital where I work
I asked a patient once what he remembered.
Everything. Everything that ever happened.
Thinking back, incompletely, I think
I must've disbelieved his ease, his willingness
To witness all his loss always, so I asked,
Just having heard the stupid elephant hoke:
Anything about elephants? pets?He had a dog:
Bean, Bingo, something like that. And he walked
Him every day on a leash and they bought
A hamburger every day on South Harrison
Or North Harrison, somewhere in Shelbyville.
I asked where the dog was. He said he loved
Him so much he'd drink out of the river
And the dog would too, he loved him
So much. I have to admit I had to say
Something and of course there was nothing
To say. His head was down as he drank.
The water was sweet. Easily I left him
Alone to walk myself out of the river
Of sense. I remember riding shotgun
In a truck with my Uncle Ralph across flat
Kansas. He said something. I said, Really?
And he said, Hell yes boy, do you think
I'd lie? Why do you always say really?
And I didn't know, God help me, I don't
Know. He was my uncle. He wouldn't lie.
Truth is I hadn't been listening,
But watching the long rows pass my window,
I was busy being elephant keeper
And elephant, the hose inside, the dog
That drank with a man, and the river, where
Everything is equal, is possible, where
I knew I'd die someday and live without
Sight or sound or touch, possibly forever.
Comments about And Leave Show Business? by Ralph Burns
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Still I Rise
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Edgar Allan Poe
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
A Dream Within A Dream
Edgar Allan Poe