The Magician

In your eyes
leaves turn into
& trees turn into
men that
move to the edge of the
leaving footprints in the grass.

You see
men walk down
streets wearing
suits with
ties. No one
ever talks
to them
but you.

They look at you
like sleepy barn owls
blinking big
round eyes,

then turn &
away on
pillow-feather wings.

Your imagination is
a wonderland
where roosters strut
in overcoats
& cows cavort
in ballet
skirts, & dogs
play chess together
on the grass.

You stand
on the hill by
your grandparents’ house,
& your mind unbends
the river running past
& makes it
nine miles wide.

You jump aboard a golden boat
& sail across
& back
eight times, & as you do,
a golden moon rises,
from the river & climbs
into the sky. Your boat
is pushed
by sails that flap in
the stillness
like big bird’s wings.

It’s a poet’s river you
are on,
& a poet’s boat. You
look over the side
& see
goldfish swim in schools
through herons legs
& a silver whale
glide slowly toward the moon.

When finished
with your eighth trip,
you go ashore, bend the river
back, & go up on
the hill again
where you write down everything
you’ve seen.

Your grandparents
come out of
their house remarking:
“Why, Jon, what a
wonderful thing you’ve done!
We saw you make our river
nine miles wide,

& saw a golden moon
rise sizzling
into the sky! We saw
you sail far away, then come back
again in a golden boat
with herons flying from
the mast! Then we saw
you bend the river back again
the way it was!”

They ask you how you
do such
things, &
you shrug & tell them:
“I dunno.”

It’s a poet’s way,
& unexplainable.

         This poem, originally titled “For Jonathan, Who At Eight, is a Poet,” and published as a Broadsheet by Smith Park Poetry Series, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1975.


About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
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