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Can You Cheat the Void with Sleight of Hand?

By Ken Yoshikawa

It started with Perplexus:
a spheroid puzzle game in the float shoppe’s waiting room.
You roll a 5mm metal ball through a three dimensional labyrinth
and stay on the track.
You learn to move the whole sphere & make gravity your friend.

Surely, though, you fail & fail & clang it slaps upon the plastic ramming shivers in your hands.
So you smack Perplexus back when the ball gets wedged, & you try again & again & again &
you breathe & be patient till all the meditating you thought you’ve done seems to fall apart
& you are frustrated.

When I laid Perplexus down,
the ball must have slid into the bones in my hand,
rolled up my arm
then right into my skull.

So when, without ado, I stepped into the void
I was not alone,
or empty,
but my hands, still obsessed with the rattle clack of failure
held my head,
as if determined to solve the puzzle of itself
and be rewarded with neck pops
all suspended, breaking all the rules of normal.

Can you contend against eternity
when you can see where you end against the utter backdrop?

Can you cheat the void
with sleight of hand?

Or are you left, suspended in a block of glass,
thinking everything you do is wrong.
Your thoughts are all mistakes, that wretch until there’s salt inside your eyes & then reality
begins to strobe light step its way up to the moody lighted shower head to clean itself in blue &
red then turn on back again into the dark, when even still you’re bouncing off the walls &
everything is still just wrong.

This whole thing is just a ghost, a trip, some simulation made to flip a switch.
This doesn’t change a thing about me.

And then, I breathed this fury that went down into my gut.
My body, pain, the death, the smell: it’s all to go one day, why bother, right?
So meaningless, this drip, you may as well embrace it, ride it down into the ocean, from the
clouds & shattered sky, until your toes will spark like little lightning rods.

I must have let my head go,
because the metal ball just seemed to roll right out the top,
and everything went still,
as if a lion roared.

When I moved my wrists beside my head, the ice that cased me in would crack its lines out into
space, decompressing constellations, twisting into groans of muscles, bone, the crunching noise
was loud, O why so loud. The rage, this body, cracking, spread like music meant to make you

Till the lion roared again & thunder made its quiet.

There was this drumming
distant, thumping, battle, dancing,
O & all the steady majesty, so simple, doubled
strong enduring far beyond what any thought could ever reach.
How beautiful.

And so I gently floated on toward this beat
with wonder why my heart just feels so far away.