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Undated coloured poster for 'Siberian death defier and Aviator baffling' John Clempert featuring illustrations of his tricks and performances. HPF/5B/18

early 20th century
The Original Captain Boomerang’s Death-Defying Stunts

 

Ladies and gentlemen:

it’s not the escape which sets me free

but the entire surrender. As always

there is no body double

and no apparatus,

the lumber and chock which keep you rooted there

will vanish, in a trice.

 

Released into that forgetfulness

holding my breath for another count of ten

I work my strategy out.

You see, in practice

when engaged with any airtight fiendish device

it’s no different to the Nailed-In-

Packing-Crate Mystery

or the Upside Down Barrel Plunge.

 

It’s a hard one this time.

Sir, you are amazed

I should survive these incredible feats. Let me tell you

it takes a special kind of person

to become a genuine fake. The simple fact is

I cannot be killed —

the crowd believes it’s impossible

but I know everything is true.

 

We are always conjuring on the edge of death, ladies and gentlemen.

I have studied my subject and I know its ways.

There’s no exit from that sealed casket.

I do not enter this compact lightly

and you have every reason to be afraid,

not on my account

but for yourselves, for wanting to see such blood.

 

You await the wrong turn, the failure

of my dextrous digits,

the mistaken breath that loses me.

Perhaps it will happen tonight and you were there

when the great illusionist never returned

and you yourselves became history.

 

Well, we’ll see.

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you

as clean as a shelled egg.

There’s nothing up my sleeves.

Let me show you how it’s done:

one

two

three

 

 

© Rennie Parker

Picture 10252718, poster, early 20th century

 

 

Rennie Parker is a poet based in the Midlands, usually published by Shoestring Press. She has performed at open mics and regional festivals for several years now, and her work has appeared in magazines since 1987. Her critical study The Georgian Poets was published by the British Council/Writers and their Work series in 1999, and there is prose fiction available on Kindle. Further details are on poetry pf and Rennie Parker’s Bookstop blog.