As delivered to the AJU Underground last week. Though each line has 10 syllables, I made no attempt at iambic pentameter...

The Tale of Tight-Roping Bill
by Matt Rutta

Under the big top, where the lions roar,
Where tumblers tumble, trapeze artists soar,
Where three giant rings span expansive floor,
Fan expectation of so much in store.

Clowns a’plenty emerge from their auto.
From whence do they come? Where is their grotto?
The kids have balloons, parents are blotto.
All hush up as revealed is the motto:

“The greatest show on earth”, it has been billed.
They’re performing stunts that can get them killed.
Beyond capacity the tent is filled,
Sitting on bleachers where beer has been spilled.

The jugglers juggle torches of flame,
But for the patrons it’s more of the same,
For only one man has truly earned fame:
They want tight-roping Bill, that is his name!

For they all come to see the tightrope walker,
Famous, legendary, badass rocker,
Puts on quite a show for every gawker;
None of them know they’re in for a shocker…

From up high on the wire King Bill does reign,
Over the red tent which is his domain.
Going way up there is clearly insane,
But none of them know how suffers he pain.

He shows off, betwixt his teeth clenched a knife.
Recently found out, unfaithful his wife.
Rather than live with this tension and strife,
Tight-roping Bill has despaired of his life.

He couldn’t exist, seeing her with him,
Wife, bearded lady, with Cannonball Jim.
Oh, how could she do this and be so dim‽
Could she see the outcome would be so grim‽

Quite a surprise that this short man in tights
Who conquered rafters, who basks in spotlights
Defied gravity to many delights
Was deathly, mortally, afraid of heights.

Ascending the ladder, climbs resolute,
He conquered his fear, he gave it the boot.
The only thing on his mind is acute:
The time has arrived to settle dispute.

Then Bill takes on his nefarious role,
To accomplish now his sinister goal.
He must pull it off, no matter the toll:
The adulterer shall pay with his soul!

Early that day, rigs with no abandon,
Calibrates human cannonball’s cannon,
Directed toward the lion’s den, slammin’;
The giant cat will eat Jim like salmon!

The scum of the earth and the tasteless swill,
All stand in awe of our villain named Bill.
Unbeknownst to them, oh, indeed he will
Be on the verge of dramatic self-kill.

He leapt from his platform to the trapeze.
He kicked the acrobat right in the knees.
Hijacking the bar, the criminal flees,
Swooping downward with the greatest of ease.

Removes knife from his mouth, he cuts the string
Causing elements of his trap to spring,
Releasing the lock of the caged being,
The cannon’s fuse pulled, toward jungle’s king.

All could be said, he descended with grace.
No look of horror emoted his face.
Frozen in time, he transcends time and space
By scarring the lives of all in this place.

Intentionally, he misses the mat.
Tightrope Bill hits the floor with a loud splat.
Cannonball Jim is launched in seconds flat
And proceeds to be devoured by the big cat.

As Hobo Murray gets hit with a pie,
His painted-on clown smile seems quite awry
For he needs to wipe off each tear-filled eye
As, watching dumbfounded, his best friends die.

It’s far bigger than the bloodiest mess,
Mem’ry of this psychological stress
Of hubby and paramour deaths transgress
On Mrs. Bill, Bearded Lady’s distress.

Even years later, it makes us fall ill,
Those present that night still feel quite a chill
But never forget, for there is a thrill
Telling the tale of tight-roping Bill.
The Philolexian Society
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