Sometimes we have no choice but to dance a bolero under a street light or a red moon.
---Roberto Bolano


The tightrope walker
            despises the elephant
The aerialiste sleeps
            with the tightrope walker
The acrobat reads Baudelaire
            in his caravan
The ringmaster wears a coat
            like a tuning fork
The ringmaster’s wife
            is a Chinese parasol
The Chinese parasol balances
            a seal on its nose
The audience pays to throw
            nuts at the elephant
The elephant sleeps
            with the ringmaster’s wife.


you are more vanity
than a tangerine.

When we walk together
among the broken tortillas
you imagine your breasts torn open
by the teeth of accordion players,

you imagine your nipples
being spat out
on the wet pavement
like strawberry stalks

(although your own teeth lie hidden
in the lipstick-lacquered cavity
of a castanet).


The slender gipsy dances
            with a bear
and the night’s a shattering
            of champagne flutes
and the firework festival begins…

Come, dance with me, dance
down this alleyway inbetween
top hats painted
with violent windows

violent and violet and aubergine

I shall bind my heart
with your bear’s blue chains
while we dance down the cobblestones
of the Boulevard St. Germain.


And came out suddenly the sun
like a painted bicycle

and the zinc table
of the pavement café
like a well-shaved armpit

smeared with coconut oil.


Father, must I repudiate you
            again and again?
(though to repudiate is to be

When I sit at my typewriter I know
that you who survived Guernica
cannot survive the anger
            of my love / my verse.

Is it because of you
that elephants are seldom
(nearly never) aubergines?

Father, why, when I married Consuela,
did you lay the table of your heart
with just one bowl of miserable

Truth, if there is any truth at all,
must be begat
            by understanding;
no father should have sons
who are matadors or undertakers,
least of all
            literary ballet dancers.

Let us agree, therefore,
to love and misunderstand
            one another,
for we are all of us
            broken elevators
trapped between each other’s floors.


Born in London, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist and literary essayist whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. His poems have appeared in over thirty literary journals and five collections: Ahab's Dead (1991); Estocada (1993); Six Variations of a Theme of Jacques Prevert (1995); The Undead (2000) and American Voodoo (2007 in England and 2011 in China). He is currently working on a collection of short stories.