Winter 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 1 Poetry |

Magic for Houdini

After the feast in his honor, the magician Checked his watch, blinked, palmed a yawn, As amateurs turned water into wine, or wine Into water, and beamed at his applause. Next? One held a cigarette paper rolled betwixt Thumb and forefinger, and beguiled The crowd with faultless patter promising To turn this sheer paper into a live moth.   Gracefully he rolled the paper. Smiling, He made a fist. But then the Truth Upstaged the actor, as it sometimes does. When he opened up his hand again, The smile that had been poised above success, Died on his lips. Where life should have been, A flutter of fresh wings as the moth flew free, Death left its ashes, the poor bug's remains.   Knowing the greatest illusion ends in folly As even the best magicians fail sometimes To make the incredible act a certainty, Houdini raised his hands to start a round Of clapping to mask the man's embarrassment, A simple trick of professional courtesy For the thing boldly attempted, bra

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Daniel Mark Epstein is a poet and biographer who has published more than twenty books of poetry and nonfiction. His "Sonnets For a Cruel April," provides the text for a short dramatic film with Tyne Daly, Jennifer Van Dyck, and other actors that will be available as a webcast and on Youtube in June 2020

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The Cataract

By Daniel Mark Epstein

After the feast in his honor, the magician Checked his watch, blinked, palmed a yawn, As amateurs turned water into wine, or wine Into water, and beamed at his applause. […]

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