portion of the artwork for Helen Vitoria's fiction

Magician Lessons: Eight Poems
Helen Vitoria

Magician Lesson I

I show him the right way to suck marrow from a femur.
He crinkles his brow when understanding the
difference between children and a hanging.
Daughter is another word for fetish. Distance is
measured in teeth marks and coat hangers. Salt on
the threshold of doorways is indicative of love. He
is schooling himself on mothers, swans and brash
lights. His hands fall empty and crack.

Magician Lesson II

The paths are ripped up with teeth.
New paths are filled with dead knees.
The curvature of the road is my dead spine in his
mouth. I repeat the mantra of all these things:
I did not mean to break it.

Magician Lesson III

I eat black armor and spit shells in blood.
He loads bullets and throws them at the dog to
fetch. There is only so much to hide beneath a hat
while watching porn. Without a monster, there is
nothing left to pet or saw in half.

Magician Lesson IV

He builds lakes and floats devils in them.
Every one of them is perfect. Skeletons are filled
with leaves. And what of the heart? It’s made with
rubber, glitter, and jawbones. The bones mellow to
dust. I believe in bones.

Magician Lesson V

Songs are announcements, and a heightened sense
of mathematics. He stacks chairs, builds bonfires. I
trickle down the trickery, strip bare the hocus pocus.
There are more numbers. Every moment smells
like October. He could not stand at all. My
eardrums shattered but I listened, anyway.

Magician Lesson VI

Bitterness is my skirt of crickets, hind legs rubbed
raw. He could not figure out how to put me back
together after dividing me equally into three locked
trunks, submerged in lime green water. He recited
numbers, but the numbers turned into summer.
Summer is a dream haunted with yellow fruit.

Magician Lesson VII

I removed my feathers in the grass. There were
hundreds, mostly on my legs. He retrieves the
ladder and finds my weakness. He makes prongs of
dolls and copper. A good day is a day of cinders.
And a fire of birds. In the darkest corner I eat the

Magician Lesson VIII

There is something purple and beating.
Maybe a lung, inside a cornfield.
And there is dust. So much dust.
I crawl towards the smoking mirror.

Helen Vitoria’s Comments

I wrote these poems as reflections/snapshots of an emotionally abusive relationship. At times, the abused becomes addicted to the abuser and to the abuse itself. Focusing entirely on receiving approval at any cost. The “hidden magic” of emotional and psychological abuse is that one does not always know it is really happening while trapped in it.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 33 | Summer 2011