PARIS, 1786



Ordinary, garden variety Giuseppe Balsamo
becomes Count Cagliogrosto of Palermo,
fraudulent seer, lottery forecaster,
undying magician, prognosticator
master of precognition, immortal alchemist
“Good Cardinal, see out of this base dust in my hand
I make this genuine diamond,
the largest, clearest and brightest seen in history
– fit for a queen!”

(Well, if the world wishes to be deceived,
who am I to deny them with my
stypteria de Milo, my mandragora and all devouring
aqua regia, quicksilver, and tinctures decocted
from toadstools, yew berries and midnight hellebore.)

Ah, Louis de Rohan, the infamous necklace.

But for all his sleight of hand
and thaumaturgy the Count is persecuted, condemned
to do his tricks for the Bastille’s rats

illuminated by a paste diamond’s facets.

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