The Clown

by Anniel9/20/16

A Tribute to Ronald McDonald House Charities

“He’s coming! Ronald,
Ronald McDonald is coming!”

Word spreads rapidly through the
House, and all our children who are able,
Eyes brightened by joy,
Come as quickly as they can.

A burst of red and yellow, big, red hair,
big red nose and mouth, the quick patter of big, red shoes,
and he’s HERE – Eyes breaking through
illness into essential health as
the children laugh and clap –

“Who wants their picture taken with Ronald?”
The children retreat into silence and quick indrawn
breathing as shyness sets in.
“Me!” I hear my own grown-up voice say,
“Me, I want my picture with Ronald!”

Out comes a long arm and I am
scooped into an embrace, while a red, round,
plastic thing is placed on my nose.
“You have to be a clown, too.” He whispers as the camera flashes.
Then little voices begin to shout, “Me!
Me, I want a picture! I want a red nose!”
And the children (whole for awhile) flock.

* * *

Home again. Grandchildren, who
have known much of our sorrow, playing
on the floor – I open a large
envelope and find – two big, red noses
gleaming from a photograph,
Me – and Ronald, and a new red plastic nose.

“Boys,” I begin to tease, “I forgot to tell you
something important. When we were last in
Chicago, I graduated from Clown School.”

Ałec, snorting, eyes rolling: “Sure, Grandma!”

Daniel, certain, eyes narrowing: “No, you didn’t.”

Ethan, shocked: “Did you really?”

“I really did, and” (flashing photo before them)
“Ronald McDonald – HIMSELF- (reaching
into pocket, placing round, red plastic thing)
“gave me my nose!”

All eyes – flabbergasted.

Somewhere in life, when their griefs come,
may these children remember
that, just for a little while,
Ronald McDonald, HIMSELF,
helped Grandma learn to laugh again.

March 2008

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13 Responses to The Clown

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Oh, rats. I thought this was going to be about Donald Trump. 😀

    A wonderful story/poem, Annie. I shall put a little extra into the box in the drive-thru window.

  2. Anniel says:

    I was a little bit put off on this one, since now “clowns” are apparently guys who frighten children and invite them into the woods, probably with ill intent.

    McDonald Charities are a wonderful organization. When we have stayed at the House we were treated so well and made so many friends. Now we have a grandchild, and his parents, who have been served there. Ronald still visits to thrill the kids.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      John Wayne Gacy moonlighted as a clown, which may be when the occupation took a sinister turn. Then there was Stephen King’s Pennywise from It. But I assume there are still real clowns out there who make people (especially children) laugh, not cry.

  3. Gibblet says:

    Anniel, thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt poem. It is a poignant reminder of how one person, or a well directed kindness, can eleviate some suffering and bring a bit of joy to another person.

    • Anniel says:


      I love it when you and Brad do “dueling limericks.”

      • Gibblet says:

        He’s a good guy, that’s for sure,
        Our esteemed editor,
        Talking serious politics
        Or just simple limericks

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Your all-wise, all-seeing editor is so plugged in, he knows when to unplug. Thanks to Annie for singing the praises of something praise-worthy. Politics gets old. Let goats used the lady’s room if they like, we’ll find a way to tiptoe around the lunatics.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There was a big guy in red shoes
    Who sold burgers and fries, not tofu
    Because kids needed love
    There came a big yellow glove
    And served them a McDonald House too

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    People actually doing something to make the world a better place. Great!!!

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