Curtain Call

There is no exit for this extra.
Between the short way in and the long way out
there were just too many people
watching for signs of what I’m about,
to clap me in irons,
to clap me on the back,
to just give a mediocre clap or two.
It’s happening:
that is to say, it is un-not-happening:
with a swoosh that’s way too abrupt
the curtain’s undropped
and the show is unstopped.

I feel like a slave
when I raise up my hand
and have no choice but to answer,
whether I know the answer or not.
I feel like a slave
when it’s too late to pause,
pinned in the cross fire,
trapped by the sound of applause.

I wish I could play a possum
or some other grim reminder
in the midsummer’s eve show.
I could lie on the stage
and speak my lines
and no one would even know I was alive.
I wish I could play the corpse
so when the curtain came down
I might be excused from taking a bow.
I wish I could play the guy in the coma
who’s been out for seventeen years
and everyone hopes he will come back
but if I spoke they wouldn’t care.
Or hear.
It would be the role of a lifetime.
It would be a role
I could die for.

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