It’s Magic, Don’tcha know (First-Time Elephants)


Cut to the thick of things,
and you get yourself the marrow of mankind
spilling out of crowded subway stations
holding hands in a September thunderstorm
watching the leaves change with the kind of wonder
reserved for kids and Disneyland. When you
see an elephant for the first time, your brain
has to swell to fit it all inside, some kind of pachyderm sorcery
has to be afoot.

It’s nonsensical beautiful,
like walking along a 3AM highway
singing drinking songs and swearing
“Fuck, I love you!”
staring down the headlights with your
Come-and-Get-Me grins
Wild like the moon,
hungry like the borealis,
and direly in need of a double-bacon cheese.

it’s the young punk on the Millennium Line
holding his head like it might explode
every time the station name was called
by the friendly robot lady voice.
Either he had a hangover
the size of the Big Bang
or he was listening to some kind of four-chord magic,
the kind that saves souls and spikes hair higher
than the legal limit, the kind
that pulls a wafer-thin persona from the filing cabinet
and adds fire and fifty-pounds of muscle
just to see what happens. 

It keeps the daffy-eyed dream fiends
hooked on motivational tapes and recycled promises
plunk down their credit card for one more case of
overpriced mangosteen juice, and say
“This is gonna be it. This time
I’m really gonna be a winner, dammit,
it’s written in the stars!”

But stars don’t hold your handwriting all so well anymore
they’re getting harder to see, we’ve got
satellite ambitions instead, not to rocket away but to float
in comfy orbits, gazing down
at city lights and puzzling out
the patterns in their eyes, wondering
what might be going on down there.

But if you squint real hard, you can still see
the sparks generated by a shared cigarette
waiting outside a Greyhound station
in a town you thought you forgot, the looks
you see in airplane arrival terminals
that could burn California to the ground
with unfurled passions, or that first awkward dance
around the kitchen sink at a house party
you thought you should’ve skipped
to watch Lost

You gotta step closer by stepping back,
but that kinda sorcery is still there, it just wears
a different pair of jeans these days,
a different set of stars.