There was a time when you let the madman out regularly,
reveled in his unpredictable bluster,
sashaying across stages in high heels
rattling sabers in armor,
willing to sing the blues in church,
or make those in the first row shudder with a menacing glance.
Characters, all of them, alternative truths,
not me, yet unveiling an odd need
to be something more than the quiet kid in the back,
no threat to anyone.
Yes, you have tasted the sweet madness,
felt the adrenaline of a punch to the jaw
and the falling of bodies, the withering of courage
in the face of your anger,
the utter surprise as you break character
to become one,
your alter ego on full display, entering stage left
before conquering the crowd,
not in your acting, but in your becoming
a creature unlike.
Today, I am content to be the quiet one,
more real, less loud, less likely to stand out,
a bit character, best supporting actor
in an invisible role,
indistinguishable from the original
a new kind of astonishing,
and more rare than the brash conqueror of stages,
caring less for applause,
About this poem
There was a time, many years ago, that I did some acting. I particularly liked loud, over the top strange characters. Jack Nicholson had nothing on me. The look on the faces of people who knew me was a priceless thing.
Now and again, I think I’d like to get back to it. But mostly, I don’t.
My apologies to Kelly Ann Conway for stealing her phrase.