Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Indolent Magician by Matt Dennison

The Magician by Ruth Hunter, 2012

I perform tricks for the children
at the roadside attraction, mannequins,
bedpans and teeth being the main of my draw.
It is unpleasant work but must be done,
for the mind—slick coil!—does not travel easily
to the suffering of others. Offering prayers
like scissors I ask what they want. What sounds
come out I cannot recall. They make noises.
I have been to the slaughterhouse. The beasts
know they are to die.— But this! this eye of my
inner wrist upon nostrils, coin-slots and spines!
It tires one completely, ribbed in a teat-vine
of request—“O me!”—though faith in a slack-
tongued siesta resides. And what little sinkling
is this? What sketch of an Agonist have we?
We could use a boy with a cross-scar on his cheek,
I resume to mutter, placing buckets among the line
—though he, fattened on bastards and pearls
of our own making, appears unhappiable.
Déjà rêvé!”  he weeps at my approach,
as if the bolt and blowpipe of Christ Himself
were shattered in this crime. “O petite chose morte—”
I mince between rough horns and whistles,
ils ont même vos doigts!” And though
the actual devil sparks—must emit sparks,
poor bastard—I approach slowly, to keep from
passing through. Begin the star opera? Bien.
Thick brushed? Of course. Time? I am time:
Seal up the pearl-maker! Slide the salty gate!
As for the poor with their color and spice—
one ladle of air across the tongue, and slice.

first published in Petrichor Machine 2015


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made short films with Michael Dickes, Swoon, and Marie Craven.

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