Jessica Baran

The demon that is a clown and a monkey.


He is sitting outside your window, the

tall stained-glass one of subtle plot

and dubious moral, and the question in his smile

“do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?”

seems to ask:

                                Was it her body,

out of this world, red-shining, or just its articulation

humid as the starry air and conversation

and conspicuously of the hour about distinctions?


“The man wore a yellow suit and was

running from his past, you see him sick

for relief in a small village, spending promiscuously

on everyone when he has nothing, and his confidences

riddled, abrupt and feverishly so

the whole town is ill at ease, they’re up in arms

and who wouldn’t be? His presence begs to challenge

everything to a fight.” 

                                                But in daylight

the window is spectacular; the room, cozy and warm.

Did she love the stranger, did she know his name

which wrote itself wide and ominous?

Or was it the neighbor, true as these chairs

of the living where I sit—you too—and witness

something trefoil, sumptuously unstill?


“In the end everyone was wrong. There is no escape.

To make real the comedy, the ghost, the mischief,

he, whoever he was, ran out

into the night and dove into the water

and the town broods over it again and again.”