Lars Tax, The Circus Strongman

News just in that weedy versifier Dennis Beerpint has been appointed Poet In Residence at Beppo Lamont’s Travelling Big Top Circus. Chief among his duties is to write a life in verse of the circus strongman, Lars Tax, also known as The Mighty Lars. So strong is Mr Tax that he has been known to hoist o’er his head a container lorry cram-packed with smithys’ anvils while pulling a concert hall across a field with his teeth. For the duration of his residency, our fey poet has been billeted in Lars Tax’s caravan, a flimsy construction of balsa wood and straw regularly subject to ruinous damage when the strongman engages in such mundane activities as yawning or combing his hair. By more or less imprisoning him with his subject, it is hoped that Beerpint will dash off a vivid “Life” fairly quickly, after which he can concentrate on other Big Top topics, including clowns and bears and trapeze artists and lions.

Three weeks in, Beerpint has completed just a single couplet:

Lars Tax was born sixty years ago / But whereabouts I do not know.

The problem, apparently, is that the circus strongman is a deaf mute, and fails to respond to any of the biographical questions fired at him by the spindly, neurasthenic poet. “Tell me when you first realised you were gifted with superhuman strength,” Beerpint will say, and Lars Tax will peer at him through his curiously milky eyes then turn about and start pitching cannonballs, four at a time, beyond the visible horizon. Luckily, like many a circus strongman, Mr Tax is a gentle, kindly soul, and has shown no intention of lifting up Beerpint with his little finger and pitching him beyond the horizon.

As time passes, however, the poet is growing increasingly fretful about his Life In Verse, and is sorely tempted to make the whole thing up. It would not be the first time Beerpint has cobbled together a fictional rhyming biography of a circus strongman. Which of us can forget that majestic sequence A Life Of Circus Strongman Gravat Pang In Four Hundred Sonnets? Mr Pang, of Icarus Drumgoole’s Fantastic Big Top And Flea Circus, was quite the opposite of a deaf mute, a strongman so garrulous that he hardly ever stopped talking. Beerpint simply followed him around, scribbling into his notepad like a Boswell, and then churned the words into verse.

We shall watch with interest how this current Big Top residency works out. Rumour has it that Lars Tax has grown fond of his puny caravan-mate, and wishes to train him up as an apprentice strongman. To this end, the Mighty Lars has been shovelling fistfuls of vitamin pills down the poet’s throat and encouraging him to push the caravan, weighted with several elephants and lions and anvils and cannonballs, from village to village, as they travel the land, ‘til kingdom come.

Dennis Beerpint’s latest slim volume of twee verse, Limericks Born Of Physical Exhaustion and Vitamin Overdose, is available from selected purveyors of slim volumes of twee verse.

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