POETIC BLOOMINGS is a Phoenix Rising Poetry Guild site established in May 2011 to nurture and inspire the creative spirit.


Clowns, probably, have been part of the entertainment spectrum as long as human memory. They certainly were part of the classic Greek theatre, and famous (and legendary) ones in history have included Till Eulenspiegel, Puck, Joseph Grimaldi, Adrien Wettach (Grock), Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, and Red Skelton. They are famed for the laughs they provide, but many have had sadness in their personal lives. Write a poem about a clown or clowning. It may be about a real clown or one from your imagination, or perhaps a person you know or have known. It may be funny or not.


Code 300.29 Coulrophobia

Bozo caused me massive panic –
Used to think he was satanic.
Thought perhaps I was a chicken
When I’d feel my heart rate quicken.
Science knows this fear of mine:
Code three hundred point two nine.
Coulrophobia is real
DSM-IV seals the deal.

© copyright 2013, Marie Elena Good

(Note: I’m not a fan of clowns, but I’m not really as freaked out by them as my silly poem indicates. 😉 )



Some people think my mind weak and weird;
from it, no debris has cleared.
I love to laugh; I can stand the gaff
of those who scoff when I am not geared
to take their rants with solemnity.
Rather, when they annoy me,
I can stand the gaff. I love to laugh
and so I do, continually.
I think I act with a kind of grace,
even when dressed all in lace.
I love to laugh; I can stand the gaff
and kicks and squirts and pies in the face.

© copyright 2013, William Preston



A tear grease painted here on my face
in case the well’s run dry.
The tears of a clown roll down
my bulbous proboscis, sadness
in hiding, providing the greatest spark
on earth to offer my mirth for the joy
of others. It is laughter they are after.
But, it bothers me that I can’t lighten
my own heart. I fall apart and land
flat on my face. Traces of tears
grease painted here, just in case!

© copyright 2013, Walter J Wojtanik

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292 thoughts on “PROMPT #125 – LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH

  1. All three of these are so well written. Good job, guys!!

    Marie, your poem could have been written to describe my older sister. Clowns are like her worst nightmare. 😉

    (a piku)

    With these feet,
    clown’s all I’ll be.

  3. Pingback: Comic Relief…(good for what ails ya) | Metaphors and Smiles

  4. Comic Relief…(good for what ails ya)
    Mime for me a vision,
    an apparition in vivid artistry-
    the epitome of carefree
    captured by overt expressions.
    Please let’s lighten the tone,
    this mode of life we’re running
    it’s clipping along at stunning speed.
    A bout of laughter will lighten disaster;
    when all else fails send in the clowns, please.
    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

  5. Marjory MT on said:

    Laugh, Clown, Laugh

    Do Laugh, Clown, Laugh.
    ‘tis how they set your daily plate

    Do Laugh, Clown, Laugh.
    You laugh’s important to the staff.
    Hard work’s our fate, we needs work late,
    must beat the date, our job’s at stake

    Do Laugh, Clown, Laugh

  6. Lovely tenders offered here.
    You are truly the face of the garden. Handing off batons for us to run the race.

    I believe, this will be a stellar prompt. The seeds have been sown. Let’s see what it delivers…

    On a personal note. I was an old class clown in elementary. And on the contrary have suffered great depression. So I can identify with these clowns perfectly.

    Is that really an ICD-9 code?

    Have fun and let her rip.

    • I considered writing about the class clown, Benjamin. I’m so sorry for your depression. I’m not sure there is much in this world that is more difficult to deal with. I do wonder how many clowns are born of depression.

      As for the code, here is a Psychology Today article in which Jordan Gaines states, “Coulrophobia is indeed considered in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition)—the Bible of the psychiatry world. It’s encompassed under “specific phobia,” code 300.29. Psychologists believe that this kind of fear may have less to do with clowns and more with the unsettling familiarity. A normal-sized body with a painted face, big shoes, colorful clothes—but what’s under there?”

      Take care of the depression, Benjamin. Prayers and virtual hugs…

  7. William Preston on said:

    Once again it is good to see Walt’s and Marie’s works together again at the top of the week. Marie, you taught me a new word and a new take on panic attacks; I never would’ve connected them with clowns, and bringing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a stroke of genius, in my view. Walt, your superb piece immediately brought to mind a time when I saw Anthony Newley perform a song of the same title as your poem. It also was sad, a “joke’s on me” sort of thing, as I recall. Thanks for this wonderful feast of sounds, too.

  8. They Pay To Laugh

    O hateful to me now this part I play,
    This costume, this powder, paint on my face;
    But laugh, to laugh is why the people pay;

    There can’t be tears of sorrow, not a trace
    Of the anguish I have borne this day, lest
    They see and give nothing for my sad face;

    O my heart, turn now your greatest distress
    Into merriment, make the people cheer,
    Turn now your bitterest tears into jest;

    They don’t care that you’ve lost all you hold dear,
    They came to see an actor act his part,
    Sorrow gets no pay, tragedy no cheers;

    So laugh, clown, at the poison in your heart,
    Laugh at grief, though it tears your soul apart!

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

    Inspired by Recitar, one of my favorite songs. (especially when Pavarotti sings it!)

  9. Marjory MT on said:

    A gift – a ceramic clown – colorful, happy face, floppy hat and shoes, balloons in hand, meant to bring smiles – brought back dark dreams of menicing clowns dancing on walls around bed, laughing, reaching……

    Follow path through woods
    ‘neath old pine tree, dig a hole,
    thus bury the clown.

    Based on a true situation of a gift given at a Women’s retreat, and when we later buried the clown and prayed for the death of those memories.

  10. Play The Clown

    Play the clown,
    Perhaps your despair
    Will vanish making others

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

  11. Clown at Work

    A laugh is a clown
    Hard at work
    Right off the reel
    Men of steel
    Behind a mask

    His performance
    Is on the mark
    Had the crowd
    In stitches
    But they don’t
    See his own

    His forbearance
    Is quite apt
    Never taken amiss
    But feels rather
    In his own makeup

    He sows the seed
    Bountifully in laughter
    But his own land is

    His face is set
    For cosmetically temporal joys
    That vanish in the drain
    He can wash away that face
    But can never wash away the pain

    He labors for laughs
    Under misguided pretense
    All for hearty wages earned
    But what he actually brings home
    Is a grimace

  12. Belly Up

    The laughs I follow
    Closely like a blog
    The hearty hissing
    Of joyous matter
    Erratic laughter
    Meticulous sound
    Bellowed from belly to belly
    At a moments notice
    So let’s belly up
    And get
    Feverishly contagious
    Outrageously whimper
    With erupt emotions
    On every plane
    Board jumbo chuckles
    Where no passenger is sane?
    Everyone has just lost it in fact
    Can’t find their breath now
    Cracked up without an act
    Funny like who lost the elephant?
    Well, I think he’s the pilot

  13. magicalmysticalteacher on said:

    Marie Elena, I have a high school student who is deathly afraid of clowns. I may share your poem with him. Maybe it will help him see his fear in a new light.

  14. Wm Preston on said:


    When I was a kid, our new TV
    opened new worlds, all exciting for me,
    for on the tube I always could see
    great gobs of humongous hilarity.
    Uncle Miltie is first that I recall
    (for he essentially started it all)
    and then there was Lucy, Lucille Ball;
    so funny was she, and so full of gall,
    she could make them laugh even on Pall Mall,
    and I even saw laughs on the little screen
    from that holy show, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen:
    the archbishop never was crass or mean
    and his laughter was full of flashing dentine.
    Love always bloomed around Jack Benny,
    the vainglorious miser, always pinching a penny,
    who, nonetheless, was as funny as any.
    However, the best that ever I saw
    was a redhead with broad, squared-off jaw.
    He could mime a barker’s big carney maw
    and ape an old cop confused by the law
    and a sloppy old drunk who was guzzling old gin
    and a man who was dunking his doughnuts in
    great secrecy, sorrow, and even in sin;
    he was also, with a grease-painted grin,
    a freeloader, Freddie, who never could win.
    The myriad characters that he created
    were ever so funny, and never dated:
    like the seagulls that he forever mated
    with performances so variegated
    to show their foibles that ebbed and flowed
    despite the one being pigeon-toed.
    All in all, he went to town
    in moods of yellow and moods of brown;
    he was, in short, a superb clown
    who should be known with greater renown.

    copyright 2013, William Preston


    once I caught you
    your little-boy feet
    in my big-man shoes
    dragging yourself
    across the floor
    howling that laugh
    so contagious
    I couldn’t help
    catching it in my throat

    and together
    the two of us
    father and son
    laughed ourselves
    to tears
    even when you toppled
    onto your back
    and my shoes seem
    tall as a fallen clown’s
    we kept laughing

    and I wondered
    in that glorious moment
    if one day you would try
    that routine again
    put your big-man self
    into my footsteps
    try foolishly to walk
    in my shadow
    or hopefully remember

    how we both laughed
    at the funny clown
    with the funny big shoes


  16. connielpeters on said:

    A Clown Slipped

    In a shady park,
    I took my two kids
    to see Ronald McDonald
    do corny tricks.

    Obnoxious children
    on the front row,
    began heckling.

    Ronald continued his routine
    he must have practiced
    many times in clown school
    or other performances.

    But that look flitted in his eyes
    unmasked by white makeup
    and painted smile,
    Let me throttle those brats!

  17. All it takes is a Rodeo Clown

    After three months of protracted debate
    over the budget for the Fellowship Committee
    and restriping of the parking lot, it felt as if
    Sunny View Church had finally fallen victim to the

    Other Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:
    Tater tot casserole, Robert’s Rules of Order,
    a bad sound system, and early-stage dementia.
    The whole church was stuck thigh-high in gravy.

    Ten minutes into the fourth special
    congregational meeting, tempers were fraying
    as usual. Brother James had crossed his arms
    as Brother Olin bellowed spurious scripture at him.

    Behind them, Sister Mary had raised her copy
    of Bible Word Search Vol 2 (The Epistles)
    in self-defense as Sister Olive advanced with a
    crochet hook raised like the tent-peg of Jael.

    Suddenly there was a dreadful clamor from the
    back of the room. The double doors to the kitchen flew open,
    and in rushed Deacon Jonah, resplendent in overalls,
    a cowboy hat, bright red nose and white eye make up.

    Woo-woo-woo-woo, he yelled, waving a King James
    Bible above his hat. The warring parties all stopped
    dead in their tracks, astounded at the sight of a respected
    CPA rushing down the hallway singing Gene Autry songs.

    In an instant the room was bathed in the holy light
    of “prayer concern.” Who could sustain outrage
    at the cost of Palm Sunday decorations when a
    senior member of the Board had clearly lost his mind?

    Leaping at the opportunity, Pastor Lundquist called for the
    Question, and the budget was approved unopposed.
    All conflicts forgotten, the room launched into a
    spirited acappella rendition of Bind Us Together Lord.

    Outside in the unstriped parking lot, the conspirators
    shook hands. You called it, Pastor, drawled the Deacon.
    That was mighty impressive. Thanks, son, replied
    Lundquist. You know, this ain’t my first rodeo.

  18. Just Like Minnie Pearl

    It was the TV that saved her, everyone agreed.
    She grew up in the house of her Grandma
    And two maiden aunts. Her mother had
    Run off with a man from a gospel quartet
    and was never heard from again. She
    grew up tall and skinny and let her braids
    Grow past her waist. She learned to imitate
    men by holding the edge of her braid
    under her nose so that it looked like a
    a mustache and speaking in a low,
    gravely voice.

    Her humor raised her from the looked-
    down upon class of school children
    and she became popular with her
    Fellow students and teachers. She
    Was invited to entertain at the vacation
    Bible schools and various get-togethers
    She watched and imitated every clown
    And comic on TV, but the” Grand Old
    Opry “with its comedienne Minnie Pearl
    Was her inspiration.

    In her old age, she told everyone that
    The day that changed her life forever
    Was the first time “The Grand Old Opry”
    Came to town. Her aunts were anxious
    To check out the gospel singers and she
    Was told to sit in one spot. But it was a
    Spot soon visited by someone she knew
    And loved and when Minnie Pearl herself
    Gave her one of her old hats, she knew
    Where her ambitions would lead her.

  19. Pingback: Running Away | echoes from the silence

  20. Well done, you Three…I had read Walt’s earlier as I’m subscribed to his Through The Eyes of A Poet’s Heart…somber and emotionally arresting, powerful.
    Marie, I know why you remind me of my granddaughter. She’s panicked and petrified by anyone ‘without their real face.’
    Bill, you painted well the “laughing instead” choice, a visible-happy invisible-sad reply.
    This prompt will bring about a full range of emotions, I am sure.


    I asked the clown’s face why it was so plaster-pasty white
    And it grinned oh-so-wicked and its smirk ran off, apparently to fight
    I asked the clown’s hair why it was such an ugly orangey-red
    And it cork-screwed itself inside its huge clown head
    I asked the clown’s feet why they were so big and flat
    And it seemed like they might answer but they were really too darn fat
    I asked the clown’s nose please, to come on and give us a beep
    And it just sat there all red, and spongy, and in a silent clown’s heap
    I asked the clown’s eye to give us a wide wicked wink
    And it did, but the eyelid got stuck in the middle of the blink
    I asked the clown’s clown friends why they all seemed so weird
    And they, everyone, turned their backs and ran off, much as I’d feared.

    I asked myself if clowns could possibly be worth all this trouble
    And the answer was no, not really; I started leaving on the double
    The clowns were nothing short of scary, especially when they came a-tumbling
    Clowns chasing after me sounded like hippos running hard, a really loud rumbling
    So, I gave it some more thinks and came up with nothing good
    But decided clowns and me weren’t suited, unless I’d misunderstood
    It didn’t matter much by then, hysteria owned my senses
    I decided to get home, build myself some strong “Keep out Clown” fences…

  22. Kudos for our leaders. Those sample poems were better than seltzer in the pants.

    Comic Relief

    A minstrel, juggler, mime, and fool
    perhaps were class clowns when in school.
    They relieved tension where they found it,
    turned frowns upside down around it.

    The painted face, the hop and sway
    distort the pain clowns laugh away,
    and while we chuckle at their tears,
    they draw attention to our fears.

    For each of us is fortune’s fool
    broken but smiling at what’s cruel.
    Can comic foibles raised to art
    bring pathos for a broken heart?

    It takes a fool to see that dark
    is filled with color; humor marks
    the greatest losses, deepest grief
    with laughter of comic relief.

  23. If
    you are
    quick, under the
    thick layer of ceruse,
    they will vamoose, but you
    just might, when the light’s right,
    catch a glimpse of ghosts of past love
    staring from deep down through the eyes of a clown.

  24. Why did the caterpillar cross the road?
    To get to the other side of course.

    Military Caterpillar March

    Boot at a
    Time, he crosses
    The street step-n-stride dressed in lemon lime.

    Tetractys form

    I drove past two caterpillars today crossing the road in less than 5 minutes. So I had to beg the question. Why does the caterpillar cross the road? Really hope I missed them.

  25. Not So Funny

    Saucer-wide, like two cooked
    eggs, his eyes stare above
    a bulbous red nose, while underneath
    a painted mouth of exaggerated
    horror grins maniacally. Add to that,
    a wild fringe of hair protruding
    from sides of head, and you have a clown,

    you know, the fumbling, bumbling center
    stage of a circus. I was not much
    of a circus kid, grateful my seat
    was too far away to be touched
    by the tips of those giant shoes.
    Clown toys, punching bag clowns,
    Jack-in-a-box clowns–all terrify me.

    Then, years after I was a child, I read
    a book by Stephen King called, It.
    I knew I had been right.

  26. A Caterpillar’s Hiding Place

    So happily on edge
    Roosting perfectly
    on extended cucumber stalk

    Encompassed by blades
    On every side
    Slivered and twisted
    Sometimes moistened
    Misted with waves of pollen

    Simply complacent
    In crowds of green

  27. Daft Act

    he tries.
    He falls and
    tries again, then
    stumbles, with more flops, his grins and awkward
    wide-eyed faces make the crowd laugh long, loud.
    He’s proud, so proud
    that at his
    gaffs we

    how we
    laugh and laugh
    applaud his wide-
    eyed happiness (or so it seems to us).
    We grin and stomp our feet upon the stands,
    he stands and smiles
    bows low and
    sheds a

    tear, as black
    as night, slides on
    his cheek so white, so white, so rubbery
    and thick to hold his countenance inside
    away from lights
    bright on the

  28. Henrietta Choplin on said:

    Return Flight

    He made me laugh
    thru darkest days
    We had that connection,
    Especially that way.
    And through the years and miles away
    I can still hear his laughter, not far away.

  29. Yield to Pedestrians

    Truth or dare?
    Caterpillar crossed
    The road in his underwear.

  30. elishevasmom on said:

    Confessions of a Clown

    A funny avocation, this.

    For years, this
    was my sole

    And like any other job,
    if your heart
    isn’t in it,

    you run dry
    you get bored
    you get lazy.

    That’s when,
    if you’re smart
    (or lucky)

    something happens
    that shakes you
    to your roots.

    My epiphany came while
    on the job for a

    birthday party.
    Not only were none
    of the young girls

    laughing, but the
    teen-age brother
    sneered as he strolled

    by, “Dude, you’re so
    lame, I could do that
    better than you.”

    He was right, of course.
    The clown police should
    have hauled me off

    years ago.
    I took my vocation
    and kicked it

    up a notch. Now,
    my only advertisement
    is word of mouth.

    For a clown hat,
    an old umbrella.
    My clown smile

    is a painted
    rainbow. My
    routine is all

    in mime.
    I call this an

    because the
    business of creating
    smiles is

    no work at all.

    Ellen Knight 10.21.13
    write a “clown” poem for PB

  31. Masking

    He sits before the mirror
    Vanity lights shining bright
    On his grief riddled face

    The paint brush full white
    Applied front and forehead
    Filling the cracks of pain

    Bright red lipstick smile
    Hiding a painful frown
    How oddly apropos

    Brightly painted wig
    A suit of happy colors
    Boots of shining red

    Behind the painted mask
    He finds that missing joy
    Entertaining the unknowing

    Inside the colored costume
    He absorbs the bliss of others
    Pain relief of a sort

    Just a moment to forget
    His life in a moment lost
    Tragedy left him alone

    Soon the paint comes off
    Costume back on hanger
    Awaiting the next escape

    © 2013 Earl Parsons

  32. elishevasmom on said:

    Earl, It would seem that the comment I wrote for Damon, a bit further up is a bingo here as well. Spot on!

  33. “They are all fish tales, really”

    — When my mother’s memory began to fade, she asked me,
    What will become of me when I don’t have a story?
    Not knowing what else to say, I told her, Lie.
                                           –Jane Shlensky

    The river that is memory
    twists and turns as it winds its way,
    picking up silt
    and carrying it along
    until another force
    slows the current
    and the silt falls,
    sometimes forming a loess,
    blocking the flow,
    forming pools
    on which we fish
    for that which was easily
    within reach, only yesterday.
    So drop in a line
    and if it comes up empty
    tell the world you caught
    a clownfish
    go on
    about the color
    and the feel of it
    as it wriggled in your hands,
    just before
    it splashed

    — Jane, I hope you’re OK with me using your response to one of my last poems here.

  34. Send in the Clowns

    Barnum and Bailey
    The Ringling Brothers
    Send in the clowns

    Circus, Circus
    Cirque de Soleil
    Send in the clowns

    Wunderlust, Shriners
    P. T. Barnum
    Send in the clowns

    The Senate
    The House
    The White House
    Send in the clowns

  35. elishevasmom on said:

    ej No truer words…

  36. Well folks, this week is going to be just about impossible to choose a “Bloom.”

    Oy …

  37. Now Introducing in Tetractys form: COMMY THE CLOWN TALES
    (starring Commy the Caterpillar)

    a time there
    was a little
    boy named Commy the caterpillar clown.

    Little Commy went off to buy some shoes.
    Anxiously He
    scurried off
    to the

    kid, what
    can I do
    for you today?
    I’d like to buy some Air Jordan shoes please.

    What? You don’t need those shoes! You’ll become a
    butterfly soon
    with great wings

    Don’t want
    wings! I want
    Air Jordan shoes!
    Butterflies can stick their tongues out too kid…

  38. Yikes. Help! I just did a horrific double prompt.

  39. A Laugh has Potential

    A laugh has swan potential.
    Its beautiful and might take you places.

    A laugh a river slips down from the Sun. Causing growth, foliage-smiles taking root when its done.

    A laugh is a chair with arms.
    Supportive, giving rest to the dreary soul.

    A laugh is flying the flag
    Declaring independence from misery.

    A laugh is buoyant like a ship
    Set sail on a stormy sea.

    Like tested medicine to the heart
    And wiser than a sage old tree.

  40. Sowing Silly

    A silly clown cracked his jokes,
    And sprouted smiles across the room.

  41. Trade Off

    The clown speaks…
    “A smile for your pain?”

  42. Henrietta Choplin on said:

    I will be back to enjoy everyone’s work… puppy sitting… :D!

  43. Clowns

    Clowning around with their painted
    Leering faces and baggy clothes
    Only they know who they really are –
    What are they hiding underneath that disguise?
    Nice guy or some weirdo hiding in plain sight?
    Shivering, clowns make me tremble.

  44. painted faces
    hiding from themselves and everyone else

  45. Volkswagens

    Ours was powder blue
              as a spring sky,
    and had a penchant for
        backfiring at inopportune

    She moved us from Florida
    to Ohio, and crisscrossed the
    country six times before I
    was seven,
    without a single stall
                or doubt.

    I was just happy
                  no clowns ever
              crawled out.


  46. Sniper

    The antics of the
    Clown is that he quickly aims
    For the funny bone.

  47. Comic Relief

    I watched
    The pale children
    Laugh at the clowns: for that
    Time, their chemotherapy was

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

  48. Henrietta Choplin on said:

    Thank you, everyone, such great variety!!

  49. They Never Speak

    They are cheery, bleary pie-eyed,
    baggy bloomers, flash of humour,
    pouring out their frowns and tears
    while tweaking and squeaking
    rosy posy bulbous noses.

    We laugh although they never speak.

    We giggle at their flowers, whirling
    squirting roses, and twirling unfurling
    pin-wheel ties. And their names
    sprout from silly sounds that vowels
    make, if vowels could act surprised.

    We laugh although they never speak.

    So happy-ho and hello
    to Bozo, Bim Bom, Blinko,
    Coco, Frosty, Hardy, Pogo,
    Kooza, Jyjou, Bello,
    Nick and Nock, Lala, Remi,
    Rosie, Zig and Zag.

    Clowns – they never speak.

  50. Surviving School

    She shivers
    their taunts so painful
    just words
    she feels like a cartoon coyote
    being struck,
    torn apart from so many directions.
    But wait,
    she’ll have the last laugh
    she’s smart
    her future is a yellow brick road
    those clowns
    will be left with nothing but empty echoes
    she smiles,
    she can survive this torture
    with friends
    she walks off with one backward glance
    laugh clown

  51. I previously posted a single piku as my response to this prompt. There was more to the story than just those eight syllables, but life as it is, I couldn’t take the time to write more than those three lines. After Poetic Asides prompted us to write about the circus, I felt it was a sign to finish my thought…so here’s “the rest of the story.”


    Life is hard,
    running away;

    I’ve packed my
    I will not stay.

    I’ve longed to
    since I was five,

    but I’m still
    kid and can’t drive.

    I’m made fun
    of –
    graceful, I’m not.

    Ringmaster –
    give me a shot?

    Fear of heights,
    trapeze for me.

    With these feet,
    clown’s all I’ll be.

    P. Wanken

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