Sleight of Hand

I’m feeling dizzy and you’re making whole bodies
disappear under a trick-stage. The matinee
crowd loves you—girls are falling out of their theatre
seats, and how impatient I am to leave the show
before it’s done, before you even take a bow.
A few years ago, I watched a street magician
and you are not at all like him. He took his time,
showed me the backs of his hands. I need an aspirin,
the way you handle doves reminds me of someone
throwing snow in the air after having given up,
it’s all so dramatized: the rubber saw, the fake birds.
Houdini hid keys in jail soap, Penn and Teller
shot with special wax bullets. In a way, it’s my
own fault; Once, I watched a man hold a burning sheet
of paper—he let the ash fall on the sidewalk,
his palms were so clean, how could I not believe him?


Helena Chung is studying poetry at the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University where she received a 2015 Academy of American Poets prize. She also serves as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal and as Managing Editor of Vector Magazine. Her work appears online in PANKThe Boiler JournalWord Riot, and elsewhere.