In Between The Acts

Exit, stage left. The prompter
strayed over the white lines into the quick
limelight, with his heart up his sleeve.
I just wanted to say, he said,
that the curtain

They ushered him back to his seat,
rustling like parched lips.
The manager, all dolled up like a frolic,
lifted a ginger finger
and placed it against the prompterís
beating throat. You do not
belong on the boards, he suggested.
Listen for fluffs, for drifting
participles, for the faint
perspiration in an honest pause.

Shadows and fidget.
The silhouette of a bit-part
hanging fire in the rickety wings.
A queue of cues, a tickety cough,
and wasnít there something
left unsaid? There? He rambled his hand
through a sheaf of papers,
ribald with scribble and cypher.

The boards were as blank
as well-scrubbed slats of sky. Voices
pelted his thick
grey window like distant pebbles.
Footsteps like brush. The squawk
of scenery. Gravel of applause.

It was his feet which fetched
him up. Bang off-page,
enter, stage right -

From the book Looks Familiar