Rounding Up the Mimes

by A. M. Juster

They shunned the suburbs, trailer parks and farms.
Somewhere they had their silent neighborhood—
for who has ever lived next door to mimes?

Wherever they did live, they paid their taxes
from pocket change, obeyed our traffic laws,
and kept their radios turned down so low
that passers-by could never hear their songs.

Still, public sympathy began to turn.

Lacking identifiable positions
on anything important, they seemed..."Swiss."
White face paint hinted at a racist past.
When tabloids called, they never could deny
connections with the Mafia or Roswell.
At the French Embassy, a mime was hung
by his suspenders as a mob denounced
Marcel Marceau. Some vigilantes smeared
a troop with bacon fat and chicken feathers,
then left them flailing by a KFC.
Kids trapped another mime inside a box
of glass for days—then told him to pretend
to eat a sandwich. For their own protection,
policemen took mimes into custody.

We watched as they were crowded into vans,
still gesturing with pouts and outstretched palms.

 

Reprinted with the author's permission. This poem first appeared in North American Review.

 

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