The Magic Man
A parent can be a number of things to a child, but it’s rare to find a heartless parent. Their unconditional care is neither something to be taken for granted, nor feel entitled to, though most of us have always been guilty of making these mistakes. Growing up, my perception of my father was one of mixed understanding. He was considered by most to be a decentred individual who wasted his talent and potential in favor of addiction, a brilliant man of many vices and harbinger of suffering to his family. However, despite his many faults, he was to me a man of singular kindness, who tried to shield me from his own darker nature during my formative years. Upon a time when both he and I were stripped of our guardians, he took it upon himself to set aside his dreams and predispositions, and did whatever it took, within his hard-earned and meagre means, to provide me with an education. Reducing himself to a human being with fewer and fewer needs, he became a bulwark that protected and sustained me in times of dearth, uncertainty, and emotional upheaval, and largely made me the man I am today.
This book was written in the days, weeks, and months following the sudden and unexpected death of my father. The poems venture into inconsolable symptoms of loss, grief, guilt, regret, memory, madness, absurd irreversibility, chimerical conjurings, and reigning despair. You may not find much comfort here, dear reader, if you should so choose to read this book.
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I tried to figure what I’d say
if we met again, impossibly somehow.
It was easier
in the realm of dreams,
where it wasn’t strange that
our home had become
one gigantic, spinning carousel, with
otherworldly light gleaming unto the night,
from its endlessly tilted, snaking windows
that spun faster and faster
as I circled the outer walls, while
our neighborhood disappeared into darkness.
And then, I opened what I presumed to be eyes,
to a lit room, with no source of apparent light.
There were shelves, lots of them, with
bizarre tin toys, gizmos, thingamagigs. The ceiling
was close enough to touch, yet not oppressive
at all. And then
there were strings
of tiny, twinkling bulbs along the arches
leading past a door to another matching room, then
another and another till I found you seated, reading peacefully.
You rose, then walked me further in, and I said
that I loved what he’d done with the place.
and kept walking me to the beginning
of another disenchanted morning.
It’s often instinctive for the mind to inhabit, at once,
separate realities, so much as to detach from the present
and momentarily find oneself
strange and acquaintances alien.
gone missing in the branches
and leaves enmeshed overhead, that
allow no light
to enter this place.
there’s movement in the spaces
between your toes, while
the faintest sound of running water
at an unknown distance. And
as you try
to exert your way
through your surroundings,
there’s too much in the way of
your body, your breath, your voice,
hair, eyelids, nails, teeth, and most of it
is neither soft to touch, nor too still, as
the forest constricts and
the trees close all about you, when
you remember that you weren’t alone
when you got here… in
the melancholy of dying light
of a long-forgotten sunset; but
your bearers couldn’t help
evanescing into the quiet cover
of oncoming darkness, along with
some friends you discovered, but find
much too far away to hear you
now. And somehow,
you feel it isn’t
strange to be unafraid
of a light and palpable hold
upon your shoulder, because
of a familiarity so unconditional
as to flow from the very wellspring
of all things you are
or ever may have become.
But in time,
the abyss eclipses the intellect
and your senses begin to overturn, until
your hand touches
the searching fingers
of a stranger, for
each to hold the other
in its reckless shelter, and
making a way through
this night, the savage brush, toward
the sound of what
you imagine to be a running stream
at some unknown distance.
are rather bright, the
floor carpeted, clean;
the people mostly
young, spry, kempt; the
windows clear, scenery usual,
this white ceiling tiled
and uniformly lit, the air
should be no cause
for discomfort. I’m acquainted
with some. They slip in and out
of sight. We speak at times, of
urgent or unnecessary things.
At times, I rise and
wander in unintended search
for something I can’t identify, but find
missing. I push
myself to wonder. I try
evaporate in memory. I discern
the inside of
a familiar room,
with all its
the decked and mirrored
dresser, two towering steel
wardrobes, a high table behind me,
laden bookshelves, the shine from
a floor with hypnotic, fibonacci spirals
etched on each square plate of mosaic,
the red, parted curtains along the many
open windows, and a huge double bed with
enough crawlway for trunks to be stowed
while tiny children played; beside it,
a narrow thoroughfare to a balcony,
the strong-willed matriarch in her fifties,
soaking the early-morning sun
and sieving grains of rice, while
her husband, a fragile man of care,
kindness, and lighthearted banter, smiles
as he sees me there, when
in the adjacent hall, my
causal pair engage each other
in hearty conversation, and nothing
is or could go
must’ve been minutes
of walking without a sense
of time, place, or presence,
until I stopped to gaze about
this bustling metropolis,
with its resplendent sights and glowing people
that never were essential;
…where is that room?
…where are those people?
…are they here somewhere?
…within the walls I now call home?
exists no longer!
my people.. breathe too less.
Around me, in this moment,
is no one