You Got Your Spell on Me, Baby

Santana, “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”

A woman exited the B Line train near her North Hollywood bungalow just as the night sky began to look as if God were juggling with the sands of time. The train exited the station leaving a neon streak in the darkness that moved like a serpent swimming up a waterfall. She lit a joint and the smoke recited a silent psalm. Telephone wires glowed green like jungle vines. The woman listened to their chatter. Somewhere a radio played a Hungarian folk song with Latin grooves. She held an orange aloft for a closer look; the lantern cast her light and love askew. The woman dreamed that she was a skeleton lying in the desert. She had become a part of the desert. Apart.


Out my leaded glass window, on the library lawn, weathered men unveil a carnival: carousel and tilt-a-whirl, The Scrambler and The Whip. Fried onions and funnel cakes sweeten the air and I think that the soil around my roots is loose enough that I might be lured, once again, into the festivities of life. But grades are due, and tenure reviews linger at the edge of my perception.

I watch close as a student from my Yeats seminar is called before the Strongman Tower. She hoists high the hammer, and it falls to the sound of jubilation ringing in my ears. When her boyfriend grips that mighty mallet, a spring is secretly dialed toward impossibility––the prize is lost. Here, in this tower, away from it all, there are no tests of physical strength; no pomp, no circumstance. No salvation.

Matthew Schultz teaches creative writing at Vassar College. His recent poems appear in Glitchwords, Olney Magazine, and Southchild Lit. His prose poem chapbook, Icaros, is forthcoming from ELJ Editions in May 2022.

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