The Ouija

Jim Heavily

          — for Ann

All in all, it’s been a wonderful circus, chock

Full of amercements & sundry pleasantries:

The round-eyed barred owls were especially

Entertaining, swooping about the big top

Hunting for mice, but we had to avert

Our eyes when the capsicum & orchids

Started to dance around & lick each other.

The reputation of your little books & your

Retroussé nose beat us to the spiked punch

& your well-practiced asseverated diffidence

Played well in the hungry & busy room & hung

Everywhere like skulls or cheap perfume.

Lately we’ve heard the meat-packing district

Just isn’t what it used to be, the drains

All clogged with hooves & hair & last year’s

Fashions, the carbolic stench of twice-bitten

Trolleys rumbling swollen & disharmonic

Along the distaff river. Anyhow, no one

Lifts a finger any more & even if they did

Would any good come of it.

Consider the carnival workers, the side show

Freaks & novelists & their compulsive

Desire to entrain & make for the hills

To join the gypsies & revenants

In their battered wagons laagered in deep

Piney woods, the moldering cookfires

& their useless forms of divination.

Falstaff used to be the name of a beer

& we drank it all the time by the tunnel

Where the el becomes a subway one

Slightly grey & drizzly chthonic spring

When nothing happened. We were glad for it

& we didn’t miss it one bit. We tried

Translations & clairvoyance but nothing

Seems to get through the apparition

Of your ink-stained hand pressed against

The window’s torn shade. It’s been thirty years

Since you last wrote. Has the city

Taken you from us. Have you forgotten

Those you once loved.

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