The radical lives of playing cards, or ‘There are over 50 other folks whose backsides look just like yours’

© LRSarbu 2012

The life of the Shadow Minstrels
(which, i just decided, is the title of these traveling acrobats that have graced the pages of my home-space the past week). And as always, Viva! Thanks for the pictures.


The cirque moves from
One trouper to the next
With little fanfare
Indeed the performers
seem unaware of the audience
Though the umbral shapes
that snake the stage
may see it differently
Shades appreciate the attention

The next carny shows up
when the mood strikes him
which is long after pupils
have adjusted to the darkness
His arrival is marked by the
blinding of sensitive eyes
like pupils rubbed with dry ice

At last
irises constrict
revealing a willowy magician
thin as a Tim burton character
with ashen skin to match

His practice begins with
the flexing of fingers
with joints strained to the breaking point
like he’s trying to intimidate a Muay Thai fighter
He calls for a volunteer from the audience
and a mass of desperate housewives
clamor for position

They are beaten to the stage by a teenage princess
who wastes no time in examining
every inch of his body
for secret spaces
trap doors
and wires
one can assume
though she spends
an undue amount of time
peering at his tuchus

The enchanter shows his hands empty,
Yet seconds later there is a fan of cards
Stretched in the webbing between
Each digit

The magician displays
that on the cards
are printed different faces and
his helper is asked to pick
A selection,
Free choice
but really worth the foibles of boyhood
or the price admission
to an adult show

As her hand settles on a member of the deck
the rest of the pack begins to shrink
until it is the size the glint in Tinker-bell’s eye
The girl turns her pick face up
to find her own likeness
instead of the Wonderland Queen’s
imprinted next to the heart symbol
It is as similar to her
as a doppelgänger
or celebrity impersonator
and stunned
she returns to her seat

The wizard is hardly finished and
he requests that all the guests
of the circus take out their ticket stubs
if they so wish

for those who participate
the slips of paper have all
transformed into playing cards
each with the startled image of
the owner

Now looking quite tired and gaunt
the haunting sorcerer forces a bow and exclaims
‘You’re less powerful than you imagine
But far more powerful than you could possibly imagine’

2 thoughts on “The radical lives of playing cards, or ‘There are over 50 other folks whose backsides look just like yours’

  1. Sorry about the skate to the face but Congratulations about the poem publishing!
    These little circus worlds are dark but fun, or fun but dark. (raven. lark.)
    Thank you, ~ Lily

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