"Almost a Conjurer"

"Almost a Conjurer"

"Almost a Conjurer"

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Aug. 12 2003 11:27 AM

Almost a Conjurer

Listen to Lucie Brock-Broido read this poem.

The sleight white poet would assume non-human forms, homely
Grampus fish, a wahoo, nut-hatch, nit.
                                             He had no romance except
Remorse, which he used like fuzzy algebra. By pouring bluing
On black porous coal, he crystallized, pronounced himself almost
A sorcerer. He had an empty cloakroom

                                             In the chest of him.
                                             All the lost wool scarves
Of all the world collected there & muffled him
                                             With wool.


He imagined he could move a broom if he so desired, just by wishing
It. If he spoke of ghosts, he thought he could make of art vast
                                             Tattersall & spreading wings.
When they found him in the nurse's office,
He was awkward as a charlatan, slightly queasy
                                             In an emperor's real clothes.

The Thermos in his lunchbox was perpetually broken and he lied.
The small world smelled of oil of peppermint, for a broken spell.
                                            Everything is plaid
                                            And sour in oblivion, as well.

Lucie Brock-Broido is the author of A Hunger and The Master Letters. Her third book, Trouble in Mind, will be out later this year. She lives in Cambridge, Mass., and in New York City, where she is Director of Poetry in the School of the Arts at Columbia University.