A Volunteer from the Audience

“There is no invention to it, there is no trick, there is no fake; you simply lie down in a coffin and breathe quietly.”
Harry Houdini

For my next trick . . .
a volunteer from the audience
to be sawn in half or disappeared in a cabinet.
Pick your poison.
Please remove the largest slice of currency from your wallet.
Please submit your most priceless effigy to my recursive folding.
Please regard your garmenture as a casualty of prestidigitation.
Upon your reemergence: the customary gorilla suit . . .
Pick a card.
Lovely Assistant, please hold the effulgence from my pocket.
Please pull harder on my effulgence, my effulgence is long
and coheres to my dichotomies.

And now, a well-oiled universe . . .

This was a precursor to our conjunction.
Ah, but it appears I have already gone tacit.
No matter.

I will expire through the corridor of your ovation.
You may remove your gorilla suit backstage after the show.
Yes, it smells of the ancient sweat of my last Lovely Assistant.
No, it is not made from real gorilla.

Stop asking stupid questions and kiss me.
Don’t you know why I picked you?
When I was very young, you taped a sign to my back:
“Kick Me”.
And then you kicked me,
supposedly because the sign told you to do so.
It was that solution to your loneliness I found so winsome.

From that moment I knew I would need a theater for my act
and an act for my theater.
I had it all planned . . . that I would disappear you
and reappear you.
Really, it was you who created me,
and I have been waiting here for you,
extracting my very everything from this top hat.
A bunch of rabbits, some tickertape, the pomegranate.

Did you enjoy my cabinet of changes?
We’ve come a long way, we two.
Things are always changing into other things
on the Orpheum circuit,
but we have no secret names remaining,
just those words we’ve always used,
my germinisms, your view halloos.

The legerdemain of your tongue moored
atop the journey staff
in a gunnysack of language.
Small words: wealth enough for a traveling life.
Toll money and victuals.
So, what could I say to shake the wind?
That I held the tiny stem of a fine white rose
between my forefinger and thumb
like a demitasse
and your petals opened?

Here in the halfdark
your hands are desert wasps
mating street urchin knuckles with choir boy fingernails,
availing our bodies’ androgynies
like a knitter casting on stitches.

I like the way we’ve been shuffled together:
the enantiodromia . . .
You play your tarot like poker,
all bluffs and tells,
veterinary misdirections:
tender against the lion’s teeth
like a harper of the uvula,
then the Rupture
and the Tower roaring off its crown.
The ecstasy of falling . . .
your scarlet shoes in the sky
heel-clenched and castanetting,
a last loud fuck for Babylon
as the brimstone burns.

At the ceremony of the broken wand
each of our deaths
is a hanging ballet,
chrysalides head down
in the water cell, shivering.
We pull our Useless Science up around us like a blanket,
breath quietly
from each others lips.

For the final act . . .
all those things we have been to each other,
discreet materia and connotation,
suits and signs and signifiers,
a dim sum spread out across the table
waiting for the hunger the road discards
as it wanders.

But on your command,
the sky leaps down
like a little white dog
caught licking the plates,
and you
appear me.

You are the magician,
after all.

[See Note On This Poem]


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