Retired Circus Clown Finds Joy, Purpose In Becoming COVID-19 Poet
PROVO, Utah — It may seem hard these days to find something in the news to laugh at, but Tim “Tork” Torkildson does. He even finds something poetic in stories about COVID-19.
Two or three times a day, Torkildson turns newspaper headlines into what he calls “Timericks.”
After reading about the cancellation of church services, for example, he wrote:
The house of God is empty;
where have the people fled?
They may be very faithful,
but dislike being dead
Torkildson, who shares his poems with the stories’ authors, has been so prolific, he’s known among reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal for poetry about the pandemic and other newsworthy subjects.
The Times doesn’t have a poet laureate, reporter Lela Moore wrote in a 2018 profile, “but this guy comes close.”
“The fun thing is we share them,” said Wall Street Journal reporter Natalie Andrews. “So, like, if another reporter at WSJ gets one, oftentimes we’ll text them around.”
On the scarcity of some grocery store items during the pandemic, he wrote:
Shopping at the grocery store is now a guessing game
Bread and veggies disappear; the choice of fruit is lame
Amazon has got it all — if markups you can stand
The monthly bill for food and drink surpasses twenty grand
Usually he plays it for a laugh, or at least for wit, something he’s done most of his life.
Torkildson is a retired circus clown. As his clown alter ego, “Dusty,” he’s performed at Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, and other big tops.
Making people laugh, he said, is something he was born to do.
“When I hear a laugh that I have made,” he said, “I feel like I’ve done something good.”
After President Trump commented on the medical use of disinfectant, Torkildson wrote:
Ol’ Doc Trump is on the case prescribing with a bland straight face
willow bark and sassafras stump water and lemon grass
polliwogs in pickled brine, needle tea from spruce or pine
Just a drop of Clorox may go down smooth with Beaujolais
He said writing “Timericks’” gives him purpose.
“I feel like I’m just not sitting around doing nothing anymore,” he said. “You know, it’s very easy, especially in a subsidized senior citizen and apartment building like this to kind of feel warehoused, especially now with the coronavirus. It’s a lifesaver, it really is for me.”
Lost your job? Come join the club! No use in settin’ round to blub.
The Great Depression’s here again; nobody’s got the geld or yen.
So pull your belt in one notch tighter and do like me — become a writer!
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