Three Poems by Caitlin Thomson

The Failed Magician


I can turn a hat into confetti

and repair it with one kiss. 


Seven mice dance the conga

on a regular basis because of me. 


All of my assistants have been

sliced into thirds and come back together 


beautifully, with a curtsy.

The roses I pass turn purple.


Even when I try to show restraint

the bath towels fold themselves 


into swans. But I have never been

able to make even a penny vanish. 


I break whole rows of glasses on a 

whim, then repair them. But I cannot


make them appear to disappear.

They are always visible.



Two Flights Away


When he left my mother called it a work trip, then a sabbatical; 

finally she said he died. But we never visited a hospital. 


There was no funeral. Even at seven I knew that heaven was not 

a phone call away, yet my mother kept blocking new telephone 

numbers.  Each year the house contained less of him: his clothes, 

his books, all of his trains, vanished, their absence noticed only 

later.  I always thought they ended up at the Goodwill, but 


at fourteen I found my father on Facebook. He was wearing 

his favorite hat. His train collection, his cover picture.  

There was no new child in his arm, no new women kissing him; 

just a well-ordered life, clean and neat, even long-distance. 


His city one I had never heard the name of before. Whenever 

anyone asks about him now, I say he is buried in Santa Fe. 



Accumulated Missing


She is listed as wearing a white T-shirt, blue

jeans, and black heels. When she got dressed that day

she wasn’t thinking about police reports

or posterity. She might have factored in the

weather. When people go missing, the majority

are reduced to three lines of text; at least

one sentence focuses on fashion. Large tattoos

are helpful and always mentioned. There are many

crosses, many flames, among the gone. Then there is

the last place they were seen, the date they vanished.

Sometimes the location is specific (his father’s house

on Eldorado Rd); other times it is a whole city, say Tampa

or Toronto. But it can be confusing. One woman

either went missing on the first of January from

Santa Monica, or the nineteenth of January from San Francisco.

They do tend to bunch around the holidays,

Christmas and New Year’s particularly. Hundreds

vanishing on the same day from different places,

unrelated, strangers to one another, to me.



Caitlin Thomson has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Tar River Poetry Review, The Adroit Journal and Killer Verse. Territory Prayer, her third chapbook, was published by Maverick Duck Press.



Image credit: Candice Seplow

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