Issue 154, Spring 2000
Its else, to them, lets logic spill through. Upend,
suspend what they no longer want to be real,
return them to credulity and they'll shill
the very silk from their souls to keep "prudent" pretend.
I knew this from, perhaps, five. Before
radio, before film, before even inconsequence,
I was drawn to it, magic, that boyish lore
conjured into career. When, then, did I chance
to peak, Iowa? There are signs, always, one should doubt
one's own tales, the blunderbuss trussed up as history.
Yes, I tramped the world at twelve, could count
the Bard a shard in my repertoire a good while
before that, graced the stage at three, knew Houdini
even, but nothing charmed charms for long, not gaud, not
Nothing charmed stays charmed for long; not God,
not Grover's Mill. But when the audience
wants little green men, the film of the century,
an aunt who bathes in Perrier only to disappear
one Sunday in a rickshaw in China,
when they beg for a genius, misunderstood
of course, slugging his way through poverty
hawking cheap wine, when the hag-massed conscience
of the country demands the odd, you nod,
smile, trick up your sleeve and give it the good
Tinsel Town try. Not that Vaudeville ranks minor
billing on the tally sheet of the Grand Exchequer. .
It's just that, well, each stage we've built stands for
there's no more holy in holly than promises in wood.
There's no more holy in holly than there's promise
in the sky. I knew this that Halloween,
knew the last best hoax was my own faith
in nothing, but still the sky fell for the poor
rubes who would have bought whatever precipice,
bridgeless, I sold them. I took them in their green
years, hobbled them with hope, fed them the wraith
they were already ready to swallow. Bore
no one. Like lightning, that maxim led me,
all fire, fume, forked finesse, into each
irradiated rec-room, from boondocks to beach.
And there, they dangled for me, plunged to the sea.
Philco or fife, magic or Martian or holy shroud ....
Lord! Blackstone, Barnum, they would've been proud.