My brother’s shadow flutters from his shoulders, a magician’s cape. My personal charlatan glittering in woofle dust and loaded with gBlack Magic Brother
My brother’s shadow flutters from his shoulders, a magician’s cape. My personal charlatan glittering in woofle dust and loaded with gimmicks and gaffs.
A train of dirty cabooses, of once-beautiful girls, follows my magus man like a chewed tail helping him perform his tricks. He calls them his Beloveds, his Sim Sala Bimbos, juggles them, shoves them into pipes packed hot hard as cannons and Wham Bam Ala-Kazam! whirls them to smoke. Sometimes he vanishes their teeth then points his broken wand up into the starry desert sky, says, Voilà! There they are! and the girls giggle, revealing neon gums and purple throats.
My brother. My mago. The consummate professional, he is dependable—performs daily, nightly, in the living room, a forever-matinee, an always-late-shaman-show: Come one, come all! Behold the spectacle of the Prince of Prestidigitators.
As the main attraction (drumroll please) he pulls animals from a hole in his crotch— you thought I’d say hat, but you don’t know my black magic brother— and those animals love him like the first animals loved God when He gave them names.
My brother. Our perpetual encore— he riddles my father with red silk scarves before sawing him in half with a steak knife. Now we have two fathers, one who weeps anytime he hears the word Presto! The other who drags his feet down the hall at night. Neither has the stomach for steak anymore.
My mother, too, is gone somewhere in one of the pockets of my brother’s bluest tuxedo: Abracadabrantesque!
The audience is we—we have the stubs to prove it— and we have been here for years, in velvet chairs the color of wounds, waiting for something to fall, maybe the curtain, maybe the crucifix on the wall, or, maybe the pretty white doves my brother made disappear— Now we see them, now we don’t— will fall from his sleeves like angels— right before our very eyes....more
That was thirteen years ago when I taught at a university. I try to avoid universities now, thinking of them as producing bung fodder for a strung-outThat was thirteen years ago when I taught at a university. I try to avoid universities now, thinking of them as producing bung fodder for a strung-out economy. Jim Harrison, "Just Before Dark"...more
In the rainy cold weather of April the wind deposits scraps of odd letters, damp ragged stories only partly told and left this morning outsideTHESE WORDS
In the rainy cold weather of April the wind deposits scraps of odd letters, damp ragged stories only partly told and left this morning outside my back door. I, who believe in the beauty of words, dry them in the oven until the paper curls, and then I begin to decipher their meaning if there is one or bestow some meaning on them. On one page I find my own name repeated over and over by someone in need of help, a woman wanting attention or love or money, a woman I have never met writing from Lexington. A spurt of rain blurred some words, so simply printed, but I find “manic depressive” and “beautiful” on the same line. She is writing about someone else, a woman we both know out of our separate pasts, a woman terribly in need of my help. An institution is named, one in Virginia, that admits such cases. Will I act out of the love we once had for each other? Will I act now while there is time? “Phillip,” she writes, misspelling my name, “you are all that stands between your cousin Pearl and hopelessness.” I go to the window. Iris and rose shiver in the cold wind. My cousin Pearl died three years ago, alone, in Bellevue, refusing to see me. “I want you to remember me as I was,” her note said. I know that you too receive such letters, that these words find their way from door to door, that the words themselves have meaning and are dignified and beautiful as they march across these grimy scraps of paper, that they are all that stands between the darkness the light suggests is not here and what is here, words from someone we can never know that have a meaning we can’t comprehend. “Door,” she has written, “leaf,” on the page’s other side, “stone,” words out of poetry, the words my mother read to Cousin Pearl forty-nine years ago to comfort her in her loss. How innocent we were then, how much we believed in the comfort words could bring, how much we thought they would explain, though spring was late, the rain beat on the glass, beat down on the mounded snow until the streets ran with the clear ink of its meaning. ...more