This story is paired with Chapter 10 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free.
I knew it was humbug the first time
he handed out the specs.
A giddy law writ in winks and impish scribble
but everyone was ripe for a bit of glow.
Before the con, our city was propped on bones and rubble,
cranky byways freaked with soot and furtive eyes;
the stunted walls were slick with spillage and bad tempers—
now they’re urgent eye candy, slick with our complicity and need.
So the hotshot aviator mistook us for hayseeds,
as he barged out of his mangled basket
full of his own hot air,
land legs tangled in his drop line.
People are such gulls, he smirked, and so did we, and then
we let him go to town scavenging junkheaps for numina,
spinning scattershot leavings into swaths of peacock tails,
vivid tales of flight, and enticing, soothing greener pastures.
He set up shop on a jerry built throne
studded with hasps from moldy leather luggage
and strips of oxidized copper cladding,
which wafted greenly into his designs.
The truth is that we ached for some beguiling.
And though he was no Prospero, we took
what was on offer: a skint flim flammer on the lam,
with a tinkerer’s nascent quasi-brilliance—tricks
a touch derivative, but, truthfully, what isn’t?
Then he stumbled on the joke shop—
a bygone shambles, half submerged in memory and mud—
all slimy with simpering placards offering two-faced, two-bit pranks
and geegaws billed as novelties, guaranteed monkeyshines
and not-too-wholesome hijinks for the tricksily inclined.
Apparently the glasses never sold
and presto-change-o we were told
there was no humdrum in our world.
All this gemmy lucency was,
of course, sheer lunacy,
of course, an epic sham.
And now in greenly guises for so long
we glow and see the mystery
without the aid of glasses.
And the dust of our deliverer is emerald ever after.
Kate Falvey’s work has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including The Yellow Medicine Review, The Citron Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Danse Macabre, Memoir(and), The Mom Egg, Prick of the Spindle, and many more. She has published two chapbooks, through Dancing Girl Press and Green Fuse Poetic Arts. Kate also edits 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech in Brooklyn, where she teaches.