theatre (15)

John are you coming to bed

He’s up again
same thing last night
and every night

It’s the play
of course
it’s always the play
he worries about his lines
his makeup
his costume
will people come
he dreads an empty house
he gets all ready
and nobody comes
He has this nightmare
he’s going onstage
doesn’t know
what part he’s playing
what the lines are
which costume to wear
(so he’s naked)
what the play is about
where to stand on stage
everyone is looking at him

he wakes up choking
sweating gasping
I know his fear is smothering
drowning in something solidifying
like ice or wax or congealing fat
he told me
one stark night
the moon was raking his face
and he looked strange
reflected in the mirror as well
and the figure in the mirror
was tembling gesticulating
terrified I felt so sorry for
the figure in the mirror
it looked so old
so old

Every time he reads for a play
I wonder if this will be the killer
will this take the great
final slice out of his heart

He cares so much
And I look at the audience
during intermission
munching on their Häagen-Dazs
talking about Michaelangelo
or whatever else they know
and I wonder if any of it
is worth a slice of heart

I think of his reflection
stark and trembling in the dark
touched by the moon
and I wish
he were a little boy
so I could take him in my arms
and rock him
and tell him

you cry
you cry as much as you want
I’m here
it will be all right

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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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One Response to theatre (15)

  1. charlie says:


    It’s as if you wrote this for me, as I know this dream, this neurosis, so well. What is it, fear (figuratively) of having no part in, no knowledge of, the grand plan — or even some comforting little plan that might confirm our identity or humanity or something.

    It’s so striking to see MY NIGHTMARE here in your blog.

    You do get to the fearful vulnerable heart of it — the aging, the clinging, the winding down, the aloneness on stage (or off), the poignancy, the questions of the value of what we do. I find myself so often wondering about the meaning of writing — and have no answer in any broad sense. Am simply aware that, personally, it helps me keep the blood inside. At the desk, I’m whole — I get up and I’m in pieces. Thank you for the little nod to T.S.

    Lovely piece. I’ve read five of yours tonight, but am too scrambled at the moment to comment effectively, or even ineffectively, on them all. I do take your work to heart — and am, beyond being sporadically “disheartened” by its poignancy and insights, deeply heartened as I read.

    Best, Charlie

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