by Hol­ly Appling

I am in love with a magi­cian —

He comes home near midnight

& relax­es, undoes his slanted 

Tuxe­do shirt but­tons, his body
Is always here & gone, the
Voice hangs in cor­ners like bats â€”

Have I been gone long? He asks.
I nev­er answer, only look back
& smile. Then he begins his act â€”

His white gloved hands each

Seem to hold a thing very close —

An alley fire gives enough light,

The home­less crowd in to look —

He says, this hand or that?
Quick dar­ling, which do you pick?

That or this or that, you prick â€”
It's a showy trick, only hypnosis
To get me to sleep, I sigh.

I am too elec­tric & sick to sleep.

I grip the dream’s razor edge â€”
I am an egg with a wing-tip stick­ing out.

If I crack, this is what hap­pens —

The moon­light understands,

Its beams illu­mi­nate the good 

& ter­ri­ble moments like the time

I danced the tan­go with a tulip â€”
Its calyx bit my shift­ing stamens,

Moon­beams fell everywhere
Through xylem & water, pale
Leaves turned translu­cent â€”

I asked for a kiss among halos.

The ver­ti­go shocked my body,

My legs, my hips & neck, my lips â€”

The tan­go spun like a carousel

At top speed. The nau­sea awful —

Though I did not lie back, I ran, 

I con­quered, my sword swung

Light as a feath­er, against each
Dag­ger, I bat­tled, I bat­tled â€”

I trust­ed no one, not even

The black & white swan pawns
Float­ing in the cas­tle moat.

The end is love-sick & filthy,
I must warn you, it happened
When I found my steel 

Stilet­to boot heel thrust
Into anoth­er soldier's shoulder
Half-stuck in the muck &

My sud­den switch-blade was

Angled at his pul­sat­ing jugu­lar —

I bare­ly heard his words,

I shout­ed, speak up! Speak, kid â€”
Just to ease the ten­sion a bit,
A cherub pops into thought’s

Anniver­sary cake, wanting

To be any­where else but here —

Just like me…

So no more shad­ows or tricks —
I will live as I want to be loved.
I will leave for the lands

I have always want­ed to trav­el â€”
In a glit­ter a car­a­van passes.
I sprint & catch a gypsy's hand.

The wag­on lurch­es ahead again,

A jade ele­phant at its lead —

His mus­cles rip­ple in thunder.

I am awe-struck, I am sure my fingertip
Can touch his pure white tusk â€”
The jun­gle riv­er pro­pels its myth

Fur­ther & fur­ther as we journey

To the hori­zon, the last ring in green

Across a gal­lop­ing into dreams —

Hol­ly R. Appling lives in Canada.  Her poems have appeared in QWERTY, Carousel, The Writer's Spot, Leaf Press and an obscure south Indi­an publication.

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