‘The tears roll down [Which way did you expect?]
the ageing actor’s cheeks.’ [Who isn’t ageing?]
My unwanted shadow editor directs
attacks on how I speak and think. He’s staging
a sit-down strike against my muse who’s paging
the gods and me to create something fine.
The chance is nil that I’ll achieve divine
or even adequate prose with my darts
of inspiration, but I’ll keep on trying
before the ageing actor’s out of sorts.
We hear the stage direction, Exit right.
We face the audience seldom; it is us.
Beyond the footlights, all we see is night.
From here it looks eternal, as we fuss,
each with our own stage business, and we pine
for speaking parts, and plots where we can lead,
at least a little. Blind directors mine
emotion lodes. They make us cry and bleed.
We take steps that take us further from salvation.
Clapping hands disorient us. We pause,
on the edge of what we’d meant to be creation,
but which our hamming up reveals as gauze
and spangles masquerading as The Light.
We move across the stage and exit right.
His gasconade, his stock in trade,
is what he meant in lines he’s rent
asunder in his thesis,
makes Schnidly head of his Sixth Form’s
poetic blunders study
where his mix of misty metaphors
has drove his tutor nutty.
He lets the runner in his ode
fly to the Finnish line
to stub his toe on Maginot
and tentatively entwine
his privates with his general quarters
whilst striking up the band
which gets him reprimanded
by a mandrill Genghis Kahn.
Schnidly is three wines into Monday
when elevenses are served
and he’s sure the Candy Stripers
on his ward think he is perved.
He enrols in near-rhyme sonnets
cause he’s been banned from dizains
and he craves Alsatian curry
when he gazes at Great Danes
like his Hamlet who’s been hamstrung
by Schnidly’s lame production
of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.
He has brought the Bard destruction.
It could be worse, unlikely as that seems.
We have paid to watch an angry woman talk.
We get more than we’ve bargained for: she screams.
About unfairness. She says choices stalk
and mess her up. She says she tires of Free.
She strides unlady likely on the stage
demanding Structure, hating Sartre. ‘He,’
nonstop she’s shrilling, ‘has saddled me with rage!’
I could ask how, but fear that would incite
her formulation of a louder answer.
I cannot stand to sit here stunned all night.
There is mostly monologue, no song, no dancer.
I watch my watch and realise some days
the ticket’s not the only price one pays.