A man burning paper in a dish,
waiting for magic solutions.
The smoke sets off an alarm.
An entity snickers behind the kitchen door.
Damn, the man says, flapping his hands,
grabbing the broom to reset the detector
with the end of the handle.
Damn it all to hell, he says, everyone’s
going to wake up and know
I was pursuing such foolishness.
The entity in the corner
whispers to him that he should open a window.
He thinks it’s a good idea. He thinks
he came up with it. He opens the window.
Out with the bad, in with the good, he mutters.
It’s as much an incantation as “damn it all to hell”
and he doesn’t realize that the whole cascade
of what is about to follow is his fault
for listening uncritically to whatever sounds
like a good idea at the time.
The good comes in
and the bad goes out into the world.
The entity easily absorbs the good.
The man eventually closes the window.
Now he’s got so much complexity
to deal with, and nowhere to go.
Magic, he mutters;
pointless, perhaps non-existent.
It’s too late for that, though,
and he doesn’t even know it.