Benjamin Bartu

The Magician

After the trick, he packs his suitcase 
    in the dark.  

The audience was fine, more than fine. 
The run is well underway now, 

            the stride found,  

the task of the performances ahead less 
suppressing nerves than exhaustion. 

A good show tonight. 

What a font of mountain bluebirds. 
What heavy warbling over earth. 

Nobody asks, 
but the birds never come back. 

Around the tent, what a commercial 
district they make of the night now theirs, 

night that lasts as long as earth 

their song cheapens the secrets 
       he can never profess: 

            his trade flowers amidst terror, 
            terror amidst flowers. 

and who in the audience (gone, now) 
   was it for? for a ticket 

   he can take a person from their trouble 
to the room of wingbeats the color of a bruise. 

and as those cornflower feathers catch the air —  
this is not to make believe.

when that first note shakes the l-beam bleachers, 
who even remembers they came to be convinced? 

Benjamin Bartu is a poet & writer. He is the author of the chapbook Myriad Reflector (2023), runner-up for the Poetry Online Chapbook Contest. His poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net, and his writing has appeared in The Journal, nat.brut, Guesthouse, Adroit Journal, & elsewhere. He lives in Oakland, California.