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The ringmaster takes her stage
(bowler, vest, purple tie with polka-dots)
and the circus begins.

Tight-rope walkers,
trapeze artists,
fire-eaters,
denizens standing
on the bare backs
of horses: poets, all.

All three rings
contain poetry.

Each receives a prize
after their act is complete:

bar glasses from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair,
a tote bag to which Elvis adheres in thread,
vintage Peanuts memorabilia, a cobalt bottle,
an box of chocolates from 1926,
(chocolates long since eaten)

all the treasures the ringmasters’s suitcase can hold.

The three kinds of cake
mimic
the three rings
of her birthday circus.

The gift she gives us all
is the reminder that
when more than one poet gathers,
extraordinary things happen.

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