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 shut. Smiles. 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.
Sales He collects his tears in a jar and sells them to the highest bidder: They're great for conversation lubrication sandwiches.
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 he hopes. 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.