All my life I’ve been running into people who declare, “Magic makes the world a bigger place” as if conjuring greasy spells out of methamphetamine dust and werewolf dandruff somehow gives your eyes binocular grace, dulls your narrowness so you see the bigger picture, all the doors opening at once like a mansion stricken with the flu so you see the contents pour out like some silverware avalanche, debit card dysentery all that sinful wealth melting like art when galleries catch fire, when brilliance gets slippery it bores me to tears when other people want to make the world a bigger place, seems to me that they’re simply settling for a bigger grave, death shouldn’t get any bigger, understand me? Sasquatch skyscrapers all around us, blurriness of glass windows and drunk roofs in the hot sun always blurry so you never know if it’s truly broken or not, unless they slump to the ground like the desperate animals they are, too many big things in this world of ours, overshadowing all the beauty still left to be found, big personalities wearing big robes stealing away sweetness with empty words and little action, evil men who stab us in the cheeks and sever us from magic a world of dying dinosaurs who don’t call themselves dinosaurs, who dress up like skyscrapers who dress up like cities, who dress up like rulers with their fingers on every trigger, every bomb men who think they’re gods, men who think they can grab meteors from the sky shove the fire into their mouths, men who think that darkness is measured in dollars and pounds men who forget that smallness is the key to capturing the strength in trees, in bathroom sinks a parade of purple spiders singing their songs up and down the streets of a child’s bedsheet the specks of dust on unread books written by heroic witches in the blood of their accusers the stink of the wilderness, the brutality of green, a crucifix of crumbs on the couch of our church a crucifix that isn’t really a crucifix, just two q-tips crisscrossed in martyr wax, candles that burn smoke that burrows into earth, a catacomb of Marlboro Men swapping cancers with cattle holy farmland in the bedrooms of masturbators reading old catalogues passed down from crones loneliness is tiny, it’s not what you expect, it’s not an empire walking on stilts wobbling in moonlight, in frightened kid flashlight, it’s the dirt under fingernails, shadow on smartphone loneliness isn’t the ocean, not drowning, it’s the puddle in your pantry, the crack in your vanity the tiny things you keep in the attic of your brain, in boxes duct taped with veins, slammed tight glued with a kiss, magic is a microscope not a telescope, it’s the dollhouse in the White House death’s diorama, the truth of magic, of mystery, smacked me in the marrow one winter day I found myself in a town on coastal America or maybe it was a village of European bubble wrap timeless have I gotten after all these years, it doesn’t matter, I was drinking heavily from a ship in a bottle, all dizzy from bottled-up currents, tsunamis cracking through self-controlling corks I found myself lost in a forest but it wasn’t a forest, it was a hotel room, there were no trees there were just the x-rays of trees scattered around the room like some crime lab or monastery the gray insides of so many trees, it was hypnotizing these autopsies of sturdiness and bloom I imagined me taking every tree ring I could find and proposing to every man and woman outside here is sappiness, I slip it on your finger, now you are to be married to the old world, celebrate then suddenly I saw a light creeping towards me, it was coming from the bathroom, I swung open the door expecting a beast but all I saw was a bathtub full of dolls and woodchips, no water I stared in disbelief then in awe then the conjuring began in my dizzy head, routine went dead there in a hotel room, in a forest of x-rayed trees, I finally experienced true magic, true tininess helpless dolls drowning in a waterless sea of wood chips, the wilderness stripped to ligament a world aiming to touch the sky will touch nothing at all, these dolls belonged to a better world I wondered, how long did it take them to crawl to the tub or who even brought them here I decided then and there to build them a house, a lobotomy of wonder I would cut from air
Justin Karcher is a poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is the author of Tailgating at the Gates of Hell (Ghost City Press, 2015), the chapbook When Severed Ears Sing You Songs (CWP Collective Press, 2017), the micro-chapbook Just Because You've Been Hospitalized for Depression Doesn't Mean You're Kanye West (Ghost City Press, 2017), Those Who Favor Fire, Those Who Pray to Fire (EMP, 2018) with Ben Brindise, and Bernie Sanders Broke My Heart and I Turned into an Iceberg (Ghost City Press, 2018). He is also the editor of Ghost City Review and co-editor of the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry(BlazeVOX [books], 2017). He tweets @Justin_Karcher.