"Flea Circus"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 8 2011 7:10 AM

"Flea Circus"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Tomás Q. Morin read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

When civilization ended a few rejoiced
    because it meant losing
the horror of butchering
    the last animal for the last
supper of meat. The next time
    everything collapsed,

I joined the circus and slept on straw,
    read Tolstoy
to the snoring zebras, lectured them
    on the holiness
of the haunch, on the hideousness
    of tears. Tonight,


I am the star grinning in the center
    of the ring, waiting
for the gasp of the first housewife
    to see the well-groomed
mat of hair on my back
    that will remind her

of the dogs she loved, the ones
    she could no longer feed
or bring herself to eat. The lights dim
    and I wait on all fours
for the music to cue the girl in sequins
    whose job is to pour

along my back the bucket of gymnasts
    and high-wire acts
to make me dance and join the chorus
    with my baritone
until the crowd rises to its feet and laughs
    the stale, heartsick night away.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

Tomas Q. Morin's poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, and Narrative. He was the winner of the 2010 Boulevard Emerging Poets Contest. 


The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.