The Magician Reversed

by Joseph Harker

Let me fascinate you, she said, let me
pull back the veils from your eyes
and let a bit of this strange religion in.

Her steps are an incantation. Her hands
turn the Great Wheel, reality rippling away
like a heat haze, ringing her head with
a halo of what-could-be, of possibilities,
of such aching and talented beauty
that it can't be believed. Her song is
enchantment. She turns in all directions.

Let me fascinate you, she says. This is
street magic, these are small, honest spells.
At night all the curtains burn down,
and you can feel the uncomfortable grind
of the Great Wheel beneath your skin.
She will show it to you,

and you may think, what a waste of power,
to be a conjurer of tricks of the firelight.

Let me fascinate you, she will say, though,
and in the arcs, the lemniscates, hypnotic
and harrowed, you will see, and understand,
what wisdom! to trade that furious energy
for the quiet orbit of satellites, to trade
the martyr's blaze for the craft to awaken
a flickering crowd of sleepers,
drop all their mouths open
at once.

Joseph Harker is the pseudonym of a twentysomething linguist who splits his time between too many cities in the Northeastern U.S. His poetry has appeared in print and online journals such as Ganymede, Chantarelle's Notebook, and Autumn Sky, as well as alleyways and railway viaducts here and there, in the dead of night. You can usually find him prowling the poetry blogosphere. Today, his favorite fruit is the mango. There are few joys more gleefully simple than buying a just-ripe mango from a street vendor, carving it up on the street with a plastic knife, and dripping juice on the pavement faster than you can suck it from your fingers. (Unless you're allergic, maybe.)

A further note: the poem "The Magician, Reversed" was done in response to this photo.

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