The clown prince works nights at the Fun House

Checking the locks that neither endure nor desist.

Vampires & witches dip into death like it was soup,

All for wild kicks in the penthouse cups of hell.


Palm tree sways above clothes strung on a line.

Between each five month lease, loan sharks wait restless for rent.

Bookies finger another luckless mark.

A woman eats Spanish clementines at the bar.


The most angry man in the world lives in the trailer next door.

Off pier 64, cement shoes sink to the bottom of the sea.

Bereft of hours, the Muslim cowgirl weeps over the rocks

Of salaam shackled to the weary plain.


Ants cross yesterday’s newspaper left on the rooftop.

Flashing lights rise out of what’s left of downtown

Like spies with no clothes walking tightropes

Made of the grapes of suffering turned into vines.


There aren’t any steps to the Jubilee Motel, only the furniture

Of silence where I write in my orange diary

Love is a bluebird on a honey sweet morning when you’ve

Nothing to lose, only to set free.


15 December 2001


Spoken word version from Emergency Juke Joint.

Copyright © 2000 by Jim Cohn.

Text from Quien Sabe Mountain (Museum of American Poetics Publications).

Copyright © 2004 by Jim Cohn.