Long May Mystery Reign by John Grey


I know the glowing coals
are poor heat conductors.
And that the soles of the yogi’s feet
barely make contact with one
before they’re onto the next.
But the crowd are in awe.
So I keep my mouth shut.
No one wants to hear that
what they’re seeing is no big deal.
I remember once, as a child,
going to the circus with my father.
The fire-eater astonished me.
I had no idea why his insides didn’t burn to ash.
My father explained that it was all in the arching of the back,
that hot air rises away from the face
and, down in the gullet,
the flame peters out from lack of oxygen.
This totally destroyed my wonder.
That’s why I keep mum
when I know how a trick is done.
Like the guy on the sidewalk playing the shell game.
I won’t be suckered in
but I won’t hold back any other dupe.
Even when my son looks up at the giant Mickey Mouse,
I don’t tell him there’s a man inside.
I’ll let him grow up into how things really are
in his own time.
For now, I let him be amazed by how they’re not.
So may the fake stay fake.
For, without the fantastic, there’s no fantasizing.
There are times when only my belief in that is real.

©2019 John Grey


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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and Failbetter.


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