I was trained to be rational,
examine facts, do experiments.
I had no way to test whether

souls are recycled in some
ultimate frugality, conservation
of energy, preferences, quirks.

But now data pour in from
unimpeachable sources
(TV, Twitter, the web, and the like)

demonstrating conclusively that
P.T. Barnum’s soul has returned
from wherever it lingered bodiless

those 55 years (1891 to 1946)
and brought back the same
bag of tricks. Last time around

he switched political parties
just once, had only one wife
but the new Barnum is busier,

more boisterous, switched parties
five times (so far), is on his third
marriage. Politics and entertainment,

the PBJ of Barnum’s life,
now being served everywhere.
Step right up! Try some now!

Will it stick to the roof
of your mouth, cure what ails you?
It’s just a Grand Old experiment

like injecting bleach, touting
hydroxymethasone, not wearing a mask,
counting the bodies as they stack up.

I remember reading about hubris,
how it leads to the slow but inevitable
arrival of nemesis, a reckoning.

Whether you call it the will
of the gods, karma or
reaping what you’ve sown,

cause and effect are still the order
of the day, despite all the flim-flam
and magical incantations.

Showmanship is not enough
to save the day or the country,
not even the Showman.