The Mouse and the Clown

By Dan Hein

Being a poem that is based off a piece of art, or as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, “a sign of decay and loss of control”, or as it is commonly known, graffiti, and which is titled “Napalm”, and which was created by the man the world only knows as Banksy.


On severed wings of angels passed before
The tide of bloody war came through, the girl,
In absence of her rags, ran down the street
And left behind the pyre she called home.
Her skin is gone, replaced with something new;
A memory, a keepsake. It hurts so much,
But she will learn to live with it, in time.
For now, though, all that she can do is run.

Bits of charred huts litter the broken street;
It hurts to walk, like steps on shattered glass
Or, to be more accurate, on hot coals.
But that matters not to the girl; she turns
To look back and her stomach twists. What was
Once her house is now a pile of ash.
The man with the gun points and her and shouts,
In his weird tongue, for her to move along.

Born into grass, and raised into fire,
The girl was thrust into the ravaged world
And left to fend for herself, on her own.
She felt the fire lick her from behind;
It scraped at her new artificial skin
And struck her down; her face dug down into
The warm, dusty ground. She began to cry
For her home, and the people laid to rest.

She laid there for hours, on the dusty
Ground below, taking turns wiping her tears
And cleaning the dirt from her face. She looked
Behind to see that the fire had gone.
She tried to stand, but her legs were too weak,
And the burns on her new skin held her down
To the bitter embrace of dirt and grass.
She felt her life flow out into the air.

But then a voice called out: “Are you okay?”
It said. She whipped her head up, and she saw
Two figures standing at her feet. She screamed
At their grotesque sight (in her heightened state
Of emotions, the irony was lost
On her). The one on the right repeated:
“Are you okay?” - this time, she nodded yes.
She grabbed his hand, and he lifted her up.

She could see clearer now. The two figures
Who stood beside her shined in oddity.
On the left was a mouse, or was, rather
A man with the head of a mouse, a false
Smile across his face. On the right was
A clown, dressed in yellow and red, with bright
Hair and face and clothes. They were strange to her,
But also fascinating. The clown spoke.

“Do you want to see the parade?” he said.
Parade! Parade! The girl knew of parades
From her life in the village that once stood
Where now there was ash. They were wonderful,
Spectacles of bright colors and loud noise.
She clearly remembered all the bigs floats
That sailed like ships before her eyes; what joy!
That she could live to see that sight again!

She looked up at the clown and smiled; she
said yes - but what a curious sound! Sure,
It came from her lips, but it was foreign;
It was not her voice! It was raspier
And alien to her. Was it her voice?
It seems that in the horrors of the flames
She lost not just her skin, but her own voice.
The pity of it all. It hurt to speak.

But the clown understood. He said to the
Child, “We will talk for you.” So he did.
He gave her his hand, and the mouse gave his
And she took them both in her happy state;
She knew that she was getting a parade.
The three then walked towards the setting sun
While singing merry tunes and dreaming of
The parade, which waited beyond the dirt.

And for her sins, they gave her a parade.
But for the price of a skin and a voice,
Any child would have wanted it. Yet,
The mouse and the clown were clever. For they
Had given her a parade, given it
All too well. And all she can do is scream.
Yes, there was a parade - the mouse, the clown,
And the girl, paraded through New York streets.

Paraded on and on, in her new skin,
Straight into the arms of America.