In Lieu of the Magician
This is how the act begins:
A rabbit pulls himself out of a hat
and the crowd gasps. The rabbit does not bow.
He moves onto his next trick, makes a carrot
disappear, slowly. And the crowd gasps again.
Where does he put it all? How does he do it?
There is neither smoke nor mirrors here
and a rabbit has no sleeves. But he's not done.
For his final trick, he has his assistant place him
in a box. She nails it
Puts a saw on top of it
and walks away.
The audience sits there in anticipation, waits--
years pass and the saw remains unmoved.
Empires rise and fall
and the audience turns
from skin to bone to ash.
The universe gasps.
As for the rabbit, well--
he'll never reveal his secrets.
He collects his tears in a jar
and sells them to the highest bidder:
They're great for
A Little Bit of Then
The cardboard boxes wilt like flowers
as the rain rains down on California.
A priest bows his head and holds his baldness fast
against the thinning brown hairs of his scalp
as he stoops through the arched opening
of our Lady of the la-di-da, la-di-da....
He can hear old hymns in the patter--
catchier hymns than he's used to; sacred songs
he once heard from the family television
which he watched from an old plaid couch
alongside his mother
and his father
who art in heaven
Across the way, a bagel shop loses power.
Somewhere, far north, a cow has wandered from its field.
All the world's children chase
raindrops along classroom windows
, with their fingers, with their eyes,
placing bets against themselves
over which bits of water
will roll fastest.
Time opens his maw, and moths
scurry forth. They're old souls
in light frames. Reincarnation
is an ageless game.
They gather for warmth
around incandescent relics,
nestling under homes-as-hearth.
The water rolls off corrugated tin, too far to touch
their powdered limbs like leaves.
Somewhere it is still 1989. Still 1952. '35.
Somewhere there we are only just beginning,
waiting to bend our lips and learn
the songs that someone once wove
into the patient weight
of passing clouds.