The Stage – New Paint

Each scuff on the stage is some poor character’s misstep.
Clunky unfamiliar shoes. Heavy heeled.
Scarred the thick black matte some poor soul was paid to paint.
So many scuffs in the same space seem to create a scar.
A gouge. A place gone bare.
Where now the plywood can be seen.
Winking.
Like a relative.
Like a minister of some kind closing only one eye with a headnod.

A family made up solely of the unfamiliar.
Strangers. Who share blood. When we squeeze the egg.
Globs of it left out glistening on the floor.

So many scars and you start to see real damage.
Splintered fibrous tissue torn up through the paint.
Same missteps.
Sudden stops.
Wide eyed wonder and anchor jawed acknowledgment.
Brakes struck down through the boots now officially digging into the structure.
The lumber-boned and lead-skinned body of our theater. Footsteps.
Stumbles. Outright tumbles. Foot falls. Close calls.

Memory.

So many misdirected footsteps wearing unfamiliar shoes.

Then new paint.

What is new paint put up against the past.
Scuffed. Broken. Peeled up.

But if we didn’t paint it every year
there’d be no stage left.

Makebelieve War

Dear Liberty Mountain,
What’s with all the shotguns and shouting?
Dead bodies all about the stage
trying not to breathe.

Lips closed.
Remember to keep your fingers still.
Brave boys. Die with or without honor
for a few dollars. Same as it ever was.
Thought I do prefer these soldiers.

From one wing to another.
Blocked sojourns.

Not across real battlefields.
But fields for wild flowers.

I have seen a feather petaled passionflower in this crowd.
A bouquettle of oxeye daisies. For certain,
a black eyed Susan, or two. And so many
violets playing violent. Pretending war.
Besides, what else are stages for?

No matter the play.
Some form of makebelieve war.
Same goes for real ones.

So thank you Liberty Mountain,
for that lesson. That blessing
buried inside every
single one of us
within all of our art.

Dear actors playing people playing soldier,
no need to reason why or do or die.
Or anything like that, thank God.

Please just show up and play your part.

Words were once wet ink

Memorized movement.
Choreographed choices.
Spat out sentences like life, or death.
To do, or not to, no matter how much you want to. Don’t.

Use your mouth for a pencil and an audience like paper.
Fill them. Move them. Ruined. Stained. Like ink on a page.
And better be. For the money they paid.
Hardback wood seats embedded engraved copper
with the names of other patrons. Burgundy curtain.
Beige carpet. Used to be a movie theater.
Now a playground for the grown followers of Peter Pan.
A medicine cabinet to those who still take sugar by the spoonful.
By the roomful. Mouths all held agape and waiting.
Debating, could I do that if I wanted to?

Wear an ashy old hat and hum into a warped kazoo.
Sing a line of comfort, out loud, and acquire a choir
of voices who fear making no such choices.
Already out in the light waiting to be spotted.
Nervous wiggling swords in the wings.
Say a few words, then she sings.
And in just a few minutes,
all hell breaks loose.
Literally.

Fire and demons and love-lust forgiveness.
Chased by heaven and angels
and everything else guilt invented.

Memorized moments.
Choreographed to look like chaos.
Words once wet ink spat out like cold coffee.
Like watermelon seeds. Like blood.

A reminder that more goes on inside each instant than any of us would care to admit.
That memory is mostly magic. And reality, despite being neither a game or a toy,
can still be an appropriate thing to play around with.

This Kid

Teeth out.
Half moon ribbed peach lips parted.
Crystal cracked corners at the creased angles of eyes
in lines that still go away afterward.
Not for long. Yet still, for now.
Kids smile. Just don’t know why.
Which is probably how.

And how it spreads like secrets.
Gets shared around by people.
When we see innocence still capable of feeling. Authentic.
In a world of grown up actors. Dollar sign directors.
Producers who never gripped a plow. Applause.
And faked up emotions to match the other audience members.

Then this kid. At this age. Insistent. On his stage.
Doesn’t care if we sold a single ticket.

This is his play.