Elegy for a Magician: A Poem for Harry and Bess Houdini
When the great Houdini died,
and did break his mortal bonds,
the brethren performed the ancient rite
of the broken wand.(1)
But before he made his exit
the skeptic made a last reprieve:
“Hold a séance on all hallows
the code is “Rosabelle believe” (2)
Now the circle waits for answers
and the postcards from the dead
lo’ the automatic writing (3)
does come naught from hand or head.
Dig a grave or build a castle
neither can contain
the water in the vessel
tis’ the soul’s seat in the brain.
When your cup was turn’ed over
in the ever broad’ning sea. (4)
Us two souls were bound to wander,
please find your way back to me.
If the baseline is forever
and beauty is just a trance,
then upward flows my river
in my veins your blood will dance.
Oh my ribs are just a bird’s cage
please unhook my silver clasp
I’ll alight to you unbidden
and we’ll be freed at last.
Yet years of silence were unbroken
she snuffed the candle with her hand.
“I think ten years is long enough
to wait for any man.”
(1) The Broken Wand Ceremony is a ceremony performed at the memorial of the death of a magician, a wand is broken, symbolizing that the magic has left this world with the magician who wielded it.
(2) Before Houdini died he and his wife decided on a passcode to authenticate any after death message. This was a line from the play that they were both in when they met “Rosabelle believe.”
(3) “Automatic writing is writing purportedly produced by subconscious and/or spiritual source without the writer being consciously aware of what they are writing about.” Automatic Writing- Wikipedia
(4) The transcendentalists believed that the soul was akin to a chalice containing the soul floating in a great ocean that was the whole of human consciousness. When death came, the cup tipped over and the soul became one with this great ocean.
(Photo, Digital 2021) (Poem, Dogrel 2011) (both mine)(both mine)