Ringling City, Where Bees Practice for the Circus – Jan Ball

Fascinated all my life by acrobatic bees,
and honey-dependent, I wanted to write
a poem about them, then realized
that my elusive subject was right under my nose,
literally, in and out of the hollow red cedar tree
at the center of our Sarasota condo complex:
a swarm of 150,000 bees moved in practicing
their circus acts in full daylight
before they enter the hive.

After several weeks of swatting the twirling bees,
and concern that dead tree limbs might smash
our windows like a Florida hurricane, the apiarists
we called in for advice confer and decide to move
the acrobats at night when they are less agitated.

Their queen lures them into manufactured bee boxes
with pollen cocktails, then the apiarists transfer them
to rural Myaka, anticipating that the bees
can practice their acts there without annoying
the elderly people in our community.

In the next few days itinerant scavenger bees
fly in looking for roustabout work.
They are disappointed to see that the circus
that they’d read about in the journal: Acrobatic Bees,
has moved. They’d hoped to audition for the special
disappearing six honeycomb act.

Jan has had 364 poems published in various journals internationally and in the U.S. including: ABZ, Mid-American Review, and Parnassus. Finishing Line Press published her three chapbooks and first full-length poetry collection, I Wanted To Dance With My Father. Orbis, England, nominated her for the Pushcart Prize in 2020 and Constellations nominated her for it in 2021.
Besides her poetry, Jan wrote a dissertation at the University of Rochester: Age and Natural Order in Second Language Acquisition after being a nun for seven years then living in Australia for fourteen years with her Aussie husband and two children. Jan has taught ESL in Rochester, New York and Loyola and DePaul Universities in Chicago. When not traveling, or gardening at their farm, Jan and her husband like to cook for friends.

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