The Magic Act

by | June 6, 2019

Hold me close and I disappear!

It’s my most famous trick.


My thin lips grin at their gasps and their cries

as I vanish from your arms.


There you are, as the night begins,

wrapped up in show-girl spangles,

and I’m pulling flowers from my wrist,

a rabbit from a hat, tricks crafted to



You pick the cards, a naive idiot.

How could you know I marked each one?


Magic is misdirection, and you fall

because you long for the falling.

I’m a merchant of belief.

A peddler of your princess dreams.

I whisper magic words,

and the people hold their breath.

This is my dance, and I own each step.


You may think that you see Love.

I see hands that clamp like manacles,

arms twisting into chains.

Your heart a weighted padlock

dragging at my heels.


Is escapology a call for freedom,

a hatred of narrow walls?

Or is it the bastard’s art?


In the dressing room you unzip your skirt,

wash the makeup from your face.

Smudged mascara hollows your eyes,

your lipstick red and innocent.

Mirrors warp reality in the dimness of the light.


Am I really there?

A hundred times or more you’ve seen it-

how men can turn to smoke.

They smile and joke and the crowds adore them,

but only you know what they can’t see:

the pain of heels and the studio light,

and how it feels to be taken in.


You lie prostrate in the box

as the saw comes down,

serrated edges gleaming.

Its teeth, my teeth,

my smile a razor’s edge.


After this act is finished

and you’re deserted in your bed,

you will wake in the pale morning

to find yourself in halves.


Poem by Adrian Hobbs. Illustration by Kathleen Quaintance.