It’s not the circus as we know it, as least for the Juggler.
The staple of the performance, the carnival’s jugular.
It has been the same performance for many years,
but everything’s changed, everything we had feared.

The Juggler collects his three balls, red, yellow and blue.
The balls that we know, as all jugglers do.
Red goes up, they try to get the fever down
He lies in the bed, sweat dripping from his crown.
Delirious, babbling, temperature rises.
Frozen peas in his head, a nurse improvises.
Blue goes up now, freezing from the cold.
Hypothermia grips her, and she is now quite old.
Her council home did not have the heating.
Because it was a choice between warmth or eating.
Yellow goes up, like the drunk who throws up.
A junior doctor gives him a cup of Ipecac syrup.
Red comes back down as the Yellow goes up,
Blue comes back down as the Red goes up.
Yellow comes back down as the Blue goes up.
The Juggler keeps going until he turns grey.
The audience applauds, because it is Thursday.
The Juggler throws so fast, administers nauseants
And he hasn’t yet realised that this isn’t his audience.
The circus went private, and the big top sold out.
So the men in suits are the only people about.
They chain smoke cigars and the tent becomes choked.
The Juggler can barely see, the balls become cloaked.
He keeps throwing, as his eyes begin to water.
Outside the tent, they cough, the sons and the daughters.
Outside the tent, the Juggler has been the box.
A box of balls he thought had been locked.
In between throws, he sees the box is now empty.
The men in their suits took balls upon entry.

An orange comes from a man near the front.
A purple comes from a man near the middle.
A green comes from a man near the back.

They applaud the Juggler, and they like his neat tricks.
It’s once again Thursday, and he’s juggling six.
His hands are now sore, and bruised black and blue,
Red sores on his palms, yellow sand on his shoes.
The other jugglers don’t come in, for there’s a staff struggle.
He asks for help from the audience, but they cannot juggle.
And all the ones that can help now, are not allowed in.
The fun of the fair becomes polyester house of sin.
He’s not a bad Juggler, but has soon lost his mettle.
What used to be free is now sponsored by Dettol.
His colourful scrubs, they now start to sag.
And now we see that it’s made of bin bags.

A cyan comes from a man near the front.
A pink comes from a man near the middle.
A lime comes from a man near the back.

Because they’re no longer throwing balls. They’re throwing rotten fruit.

A tomato sails by his head and a fistful of blueberries hit him.
An apple thwacks into his leg, leaving a bruise and a banana hits his squarely in the neck.
He staggers.

But he smiles through the tears and pretends to be fine.
His hands are in the furnace. He’s juggling nine.

A man comes from the audience and walks towards the performer.
He’s swaying slightly, because he’s a drunk informer.
Informer because he makes one point clear.
That there was never a point for that cold clammy fear.
Because it was rigged from the start, he was made to fail.
The Juggler keeps throwing, though his face has grown pale.
For this is a man who is known as a cheater.
He holds aloft a badge, like the ones from Blue Peter.
Swaying and stumbling, with some sick on his vest.
He jams in the needle of the badge to his chest.
The red blood blooms around the green CARE
As the drunk health secretary simply stands there.
A man who loves circuses, and that is a fact.
Even though he burned tents and was caught in the act.

The red ball hits the floor and smashes like an egg.
Blood oozes from the ball as the audience recoil.
He has a seizure, like the fever, that rips through his body.
And the heart rate monitor drops, and the act is complete.

The flat line of investment bankers file out of the tent as the Juggler walks, collects his stuff, and never returns to the circus.

The machine is revealed next week, made to juggle all the balls. Some will not get to the machine, or be dropped on purpose, but a simple fee of one thousand pounds ensures your ball will be well looked after.

And the machine juggles balls, and it’s not like it’s bad.
It makes calculated decisions.

The machine stands upon the multicoloured sludge and juggles to this day. Pay attention to the balls and do not look at the ooze.

Do not count it, do not check it, do not measure it in cups.

And do not read the liquid for it says that we’re all fucked.