Circus Act

by Aris Kian
“Black girl be the best assistant / with how she falls / victim to a show / she never asked to be inspotlight

Black girl be the best magic / trick with how she / vanishes under a spotlight like *poof* / see / the trap / door that be the sidewalk / by the train station / be the bus stop / be the backseat of a rideshare / what I mean is / one time I made it home / on a phone / with no battery and / the crowd was unimpressed / their groans / echoing about the bleachers / give us fanfare! / they chanted / give us fire! / for the tightrope walk / which be my nightly commute / I do that in my sleep / a man spits through the peanuts in his teeth / and I disappear / behind my closed-mouth / smile / speed up into the lamplight / swallow / the flaming hoops behind my tongue / stunt one: performed in a continuous night / no matter the hour / when she is blindfolded / foldable enough / to fit into a trunk or / into the hands of a man she learned / never loved her back / Black girl be the best assistant / with how she falls / victim to a show / she never asked to be in / see / how she contorts in order / to fit through the tightest of holes / see / how she be so seen / yet so unnoticed as she slips / through the cracks / and the crowd looks around / gasps / she’s gone, she’s GONE/ a roaring applause / awaiting the next illusion / don’t worry, she wasn’t really there / and everyone settles in their seats a bit / more comfortable / don’t see / who is going / missing one by one / in the audience dwindling / until there is only you / left with the mess / of spit and shells /around your feet / and no one else to clean it

Aris Kian is an inaugural member of CoogSlam, 2019’s 4th in the nation collegiate poetry slam team. She is ranked #10 in the 2020 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Her work is published in Underground Journal, Panoplyzine, Defunkt Magazine and Write About Now. She is an Emerging Writers Fellow and facilitates poetry workshops for Writers in the Schools. She received her BA in English and is currently an MFA candidate for Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

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