A Southern Gothic, multi-media 'Faust' written and produced by Lonesome Liz featuring art by Liz, Wes Freed, Molly Crabapple and others with an Outlaw Country/Gospel score with Liz and J.B. Beverley. Visit Lonesome Liz Music: lonesomelizmusic.blogspot.com

The Spider

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Barker

Step right up! Step right up!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
come one come all,
you will be amazed.

You will come eager,
leave dazed.

Raise the edge of the curtain there.

Look up at the tightrope walker's dance.
Come in, see the Siamese twins from France.
There's a snake charmer waiting behind that screen.
And, an awful scene
takes place in the lion tamer's room
at half past noon.

Step right up!

See the acrobat and the lady with three eyes?
And me, I've guessed your age, your weight, your lies.
I'll whisper them with hollow whistling sounds
while carnival lights spin round and round.
See the acrobat and the lady with three eyes?

The midgets pick pockets.
The man at the Ferris wheel has unkind designs.
The knife thrower's on the edge of his mind.

Step right up! Step right up!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
come one, come all!
You will be amazed!
You will come eager!
You will leave dazed.

Step right up!

The Midway Boss

What do you see
when you look too close?
What will you be
when you’ve had an overdose of fun?

One thing is certain.
The closing curtain
won’t make you forget.
All of the regret
in you is here.
All of the fear
and the ugliness too.
It’s true.

We are not all shadows.
We are not all dreams.

Though conjured in screams
of near-madness
and all kinds of badness
we are not just ghosts.

We are most

We are your darkness, your sorrow, your pain.
We see you again and again and again
in dreams and on the street.
We are a complete

The Magician

He was once the toast of England and France
the Great Conjurini!
There was even a dance
named for the way his assistant would sway
during a certain smoke and mirrors trick.

He became sick,
struck down mid-second-world-tour.
It didn't matter that he'd done it before.
All those cancelled shows
left his ratings rather low.
That's just the way it goes.

It was all the fault of a slender young girl.
She'd made his eyes roll and his toes curl.
She'd made him so ill he'd almost gone blind
but looking back, he didn't so much mind.
It had just been that good.

Everyone said he should
find a new gimmick and burst forth anew.
They claimed it wasn't just that he knew
the secrets of magic and sleight of hand
but rather the way to trick any woman or man
into believing whatever he chose.

Everyone knows
that most of what happens is of his design.
That's why he's always on the sidelines
whenever something goes down.
Even the clowns
don't dare laugh
when he passes.

He refused everyone's advice.
He didn't listen, he didn't think twice
just went on being Conjurini.
He doesn't look like you should take him lightly.
He really is actually rather frightening,
though fiercely attractive.
It's almost psycho-active.

He can escape any trap devised.
He very much seems to have x-ray eyes.
He can disappear quick as a flash
and then even quicker appear back.
He sometimes flies through the air.
He’s sure to give you a terrible scare.
His Assistant exudes both wonder and fear
whenever he so much as ventures near.

It clearly isn't just the slicing in two
that makes her smiles so seldom and few.
No one really knows
much about the situation.
Or the nature of their relation.

Barker: No one has ever seen anything like him.
He has a gaze that could dim or brighten
the most skeptical crowd.
His voice is deep and loud.

His hands flash like carousel lights.
He seems to summon the very night
with his fingers.

His laugh lingers in a bone chilling way
long after he's gone away.

The Knife Thrower and His Wife

The Knife Throwers Wife: 

His eyes get dim and far away
he laughs like a small boy at play
and he winks and whispers to the knives
as if they were alive.
No one heard.
I soon stopped saying a word.

The Knife Thrower: 

I'd always joked and called her cat
because, I pointed out that
she clearly had at least 9 lives.

She used to close her eyes
each time I threw.
She knew
I'd miss one time;
the streamlined
arc of the blade would sink
before she had time to think.

She got used to it.
She usually wasn't hit.
But sometimes I drank
and the steely knives sank
just barely into wood over skin.
Then I'd do it again

and again

and again. 

Laughing at the spin
of half reckless knives, then
hurl another with abandon.

Everyone wondered if I'd planned it.

She'd been saying I wasn't right for weeks.
For weeks more she just wouldn't speak
at all. She'd flinch with each knife-fall.
She cringed when she heard the Barkers' call.


Step Right Up! Step Right Up!
See the Knife Thrower and his wife.
She rather convincingly looks like she fears for her life.

The Knife Thrower’s Wife: 

His vision bleared.
His thoughts got weird.

The Knife Thrower: 

I raised my arm
intending harm.

The Knife Thrower’s Wife: 

He lost his grip.
He slipped
past the edge of reason.

The Knife Thrower: 

It’s wife slicing season!

The Lady With Three Eyes

Even when I was young, children believed when I said
I had eyes in the back of my head.

But I don’t.
Just the one here - dead
center like the statues
in India.

It doesn't shut or cry.
No one knows why.

It doesn't see clearly
or nearly
as far. A dim star
set in skin pale and pitted
like the moon.

People are always tempted
to poke it.

I’ve tried hats
and things like that
to hide the eye
but it gets too dry
under cover - sad fact.

The fortune teller
is morbidly fascinated;
and is sure I can ward
off the evil eye and other charms
intending harm.
I would have been beautiful
So I’m told.

The Tightrope Walker

It's no use saying a word about it
I will not accept
the good sense of a net.

Even the Midway Boss pointed out
that while she saw what I was about,
she had serious doubts
I'd be more to her dead than alive.

I’m twenty-five.
Kind of old to be pulling such tricks.
In spite of the fact that I’m used to it
I simply don't have the skills.
If I don't at this point, I never will
be light as a feather or on my toes.
But I keep on taking an anything goes approach.

I never look afraid at all.
I leap across the high, thin line,
turning cartwheels all the time,
then flip backwards so quickly everyone says
it's a miracle I don't fall on my head.
Instead I somehow walk the line.
It's just a matter of time
before I lose my mind.

Have you ever felt your mind slip?
Ever almost taken a quick flip
over the edge of stable?
Were you able
to regain your balance?
Did your perception make allowance
for what it was losing fast?
And if it did, did it last?

The Sword Swallower

I ain’t never spoken,
never once, not one
word, frozen
and mute as a statue.
I’d stare right at you
with eyes that defied
you to question
my talent for expression.

“Was it the frog in his throat
he had meant to kill?”

Had some thing surprised
or otherwise
made me slip unawares?

The stares
were discouraged
but no one cared.

A crowd pressed close around
the gruesome scene.

Tightrope Walker: 

The sword swallower seemed
His eyes
light-bulb wide,
his mouth a frozen gash,
his throat slashed,
like a samurai’s belly
after hari-kari.

The gore
was unimaginable.

No one knew
what he'd meant to do
but the result
was certain.


The Snake Charmer

He'd learned it from his father who'd
learned it from his father who'd
learned it from his father and so on.

He claimed to whoever would hear
it went back a thousand years.

Most people weren't taking but so much risk.
Not only did the snake get used to it,
to the drone of the pipe and the closeness of the basket,
but most charmers took out the poisonous aspects
of cobras and then took out their fangs for good.
Not this one, he didn't think he should.

It was a good thing he understood
how to administer anecdotes.

One time when he smoked
too much opium he got a wild hair
and set the snake loose through those tents over there
then passed out so anecdote was never applied.
It's said about 15 people died.

The Sharpshooter

He pretends it was the rodeo
but some of us know who he really is.

Billy the Kid was scared of him.

He's much older than he looks.
He spends his off time reading books
in Greek and Latin too.

He sees right through everything.
It's a sight to see him sling his guns.

Everyone stands frozen to the spot,
breathless with each shot.
He's intense like that.

His hat has holes from outlaws bands
and has escaped many an Apache's hand, as has he.

He broke free,
some say from Alcatraz.
Then he hid in Juarez
till it all died down.

What "it" was has been found
to be an unapproachable subject.

But it's clear that he loves it
when his horse hits a gallop
and his guns blaze.

You would be amazed
at what he can do.

You'd believe all the rumors true.

But, when you really get to know
the man behind the astounding show
if you ever do
you'll see it all different
but still think it's all true.

The Tattooed Man

No one knows where I really came from
or got my love of pain from.

My native tongue
is clearly not exotic.

I often fly into a fearsome rage
and rattle the bars of my Borneo cage
reducing children to shivering bits.
No one who sees me likes it.

I was a castaway
on a ship that was to carry me away
from unspeakable crimes that remain unspoken,
committed on some far more Northern coast than
Borneo. I just liked it so kept it as my own.

It’s generally thought that I’m from France
and my ship wrecked so I took the chance
and disappeared.
I was feared
by the natives I found
so stuck around.
I dined every day on enemy stew
and executed grisly tortures too.

The Tightrope Walker:

So he says. Though no one fully believes him,
they have to admit they can easily see him
doing any of the above.
He doesn't exactly inspire love.

The trapeze artist shudders noticeably.
for what? It's rather hard to see
until she casts a wayward glance
at the Tattooed Man's hands.

At first sight she looks like she might
go suddenly insane.
Then she looks like that again.
and again,
and again.

The Tarot Reader

photo by Ron Thomas Smith

I’m not pretending.
I can see the beginning
and ending of all I wish.
There's no hiding it.

I went blind at age nine
suddenly and unexpectedly
and lost a finger in an
unfortunate accident.

But I shuffle like lightning
it's almost frightening.
I describe your lies with each card
I put down. It isn’t hard to do.
It astonishes more than a few.

I know exactly what you’re saying,
whether you say it or not.
I knows who came, who went
who hadn’t and who had a lot.

Sometimes I just wander around
muttering ominous phrases,
pointing fingers at sideshow stages,
inciting numerous tears and rages,
stirring up trouble in animal’s cages
and sometimes I’m nowhere to be found.

It's generally thought that I’m unstable
and that I use my powers for ill when I am able.
I frequently give the evil eye
to passers by.
I have pockets full of charms
for good and for harm.
I draw strange figures in the air
and sometimes sit with a frightening stare.
Scared? Beware! I can see your secrets.
My mind is sharp and quick as any whip.
I know your innermost fears.
I am immune to tears.
If you want to be saved
you’d better behave.

Madame Ugly

I was once a beautiful girl.
Now one glance makes straight hair curl
and stomachs and eyes turn in disdain.
No one knows my name.
Just call me Madame Ugly.

I was a happy wife when it started to fall,
it being my face, chin, nose and all
seemed to swell then collapse from within.
I went to doctors again and again
but there was nothing they could do.
I got ugly and uglier too.

And the rare, weird poison that mangled me so
gave me fierce headaches and other woes.
I not only never looked good but never felt good either
and sent my own children into screaming fevers
each time they looked at my face.
I left them with their father and went away
to a place where no one cared.
Only the bravest who see me dare
go back to look again.

I have very few friends.

In defense of others, I’m not kind
and half the time acted half out of my mind.
Maybe it was the weight of my bad luck.
Just like the joke, I made a face and it stuck.

The Contortionist

art by Molly Crabapple

I’m tired of the jokes people make
about not getting bent out of shape.
You wouldn’t believe the questions –
I keep people guessing.

I’m here because I don’t want a normal life;
that and because of the Knife Thrower,
there was an incident
or two, or maybe three.
I was far from innocent, you see.
And I didn’t want a normal life.

I had beautiful, long, Rapunzel-like hair;
like Lady Godiva, it’d be all I’d wear
sometimes. It made my act attract
more attention than I could stand.

There was a man
or two or maybe three.
One night, finally,
I’d had it. I blamed
above all else my glorious mane
for causing me such heartache and woe.

I cut it all off while the tightrope walker walked
over head.
That night I’d wished I were dead.
I’d had my heart broken for the 100th time.
Most suspected the Midway Boss undermined
the whole affair.
Whatever the case, it undermined my hair.
I pretend and grin and then
I pretend to grin again.