A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms
The Rolling Stones Rock ’n’ Roll Circus
by Rick Mullin
Stones Jones Canzone #2
The Rolling Stones once staged a Rock ’n’ Roll
extravaganza as a London circus
with a lot of 60s folderol
and Fender amps. Mick Jagger played the role
of impresario at center ring—
he had a dwarf and dressed it as a troll.
The band afforded him complete control
and blew the overture on horns instead
of standard bass, guitar and drums. The Dead
were booked. But nonetheless, an honor roll
of rockers hit the boards beneath trapeze
performers gliding to calliopes.
A flautist bent his knee like a trapeze
cadet and blew an airy Rock ’n’ Roll
arrangement. Welcome Jethro Tull! Trapeze
professionals were more-or-less trapeze
cadets in training, bowed before the circus
music of that bearded muse. Trapeze
enthusiasts and Lenni Lenape
savants and hippies jumped around the ring
in red and yellow ponchos to the ring
of cymbals, as the drummer, in trapeze
artiste accouterment, conveyed a dead-
beat’s steady nonchalance and knocked ‘em dead.
“Who’s next?” Well, that’s the kind of joke that’s dead
at sound check, mate. The Who, of course! Trapeze
enthusiasts themselves, in fact. A dead-
pan Keef drawled “Dig The Who” as deadly
windmill power chords barraged the roll
of drum and bass, upstaged the singer’s dead-
eye lariat routine, and woke the dead.
A mini-opera rattled in the circus
ambiance: “A Quick One at the Circus.”
Not surprising half the band is dead
now, given that extraordinary ring
of smashing antics in a makeshift ring.
Well, Taj Mahal was big enough to bring
Old Glory; Lennon claimed he wasn’t “dead
already”; Marianne, who’d given Mick his ring
again, performed on cue. Around the ring
the ponchos flapped on dancers in a peas-
and-carrots orange-green. Meandering
off stage came Yoko. It was thought she’d bring
a taste of Eastern mystery! The Roll-
ing Stones had little say, it seems. “I’m ‘roll,’
he’s ‘rock,’ ” sighed Keith as Mick, at center ring,
escorted her across the sandy circus
floor, presenting her before the circus.
And Glory Hallelujah what a circus!
“Save the Bloody Queen and kiss my ring,”
yelled Mick. The rocking Piccadilly Circus
almost came to fistycuffs, a circus
dust-up over Ono’s walking dead
and warbling scene. But then the TV circus
came alive like Frampton in a circus
yet to come of cash and New Age therapies.
Still, shirtless “Sympathy” could not appease
the devil. Jagger pulled the plug on circus
fun. It never aired. It didn’t roll!
Let’s face it—Keith and Mick were on parole,
there wasn’t any love for Rock ’n’ Roll
at the BBC to start with, and the circus
was a flop. It’s worth remembering
in Dec. ’68 that Brian would be dead
in seven months. Selah. Be still, trapeze.
Rick Mullin’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Arts Quarterly, The Raintown Review, Unsplendid, Méasŭre, The Flea, and Ep;phany. He is the author of two book-length poems, Soutine, published by Dos Madres Press in 2012, and Huncke, published by Seven Towers in 2010. His chapbook, Aquinas Flinched, was published by the Modern Metrics imprint of EXOT BOOKS in 2008.