Category Archives: theater

People come and go so quickly here

People come and go

Our town is criss-crossed by rail lines. Visitors who stay here sometimes say they cannot sleep because of the train whistles in the night.  Locals can’t hear the sounds – we’re so used to it. I wrote this one after a busy weekend at the theater working tech crew for The Wizard of Oz.

 

People come and go so quickly here

Nothing seems strange under these skies,
even a thousand tons of steel rolling through the
back yard. Like cancer or good fortune,
the dull grinding is so familiar we do not hear it.

In the old days, housewives would rush outside
on days like this, to pull the laundry
when the wind changed so their
linens wouldn’t turn black.

Oblivious, my grandfather would rush to the station,
bags falling open for his latest trip
while the great iron horse strained
between its traces on the Main St crossing.

Tonight, Colin and his lover are steaming upstairs
while the rest of us are sacked out on the couch,
words slurred and walls swaying in time.
And none of us thinks this strange.

But the trains keep rolling, the soot
turning in the sky like a Kansas storm,
and I know I must leave the warmth
of this hearth, but only after I sleep some more,

lulled by the rocking of the room, the
cares of the day, the wheels and rails,
the song of the night as the eleven-fifty-five
waits on Main Street. And my bags are barely packed.

 

Video: Live at b on the River!

On Friday night, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with singer-songwriter Jonathan Reuel.  We did a combined poetry/music show to a full house at Elkhart’s b on the River.  Here’s a video clip of me performing three poems – note the very natty Penguin Poet t-shirt…

To be alive

A thousand eager faces hold the stage
in rapt attention. Slowly every heart
unfurls within this sacred arc. We start
by watching from afar, thinking our sage
or cynical remove can keep the rage
of fractured love at bay. But in the art
of light and gesture, we are pulled apart
by words astounding from the poet’s page.
The veil of separation has been torn
with rude abandon, making every breast
complicit in the tragedy before
us. For we share their breath, yet do not warn
them of their fate. Seeing our lives expressed
we ache to be alive, and cry for more.

Runaway

If a lineset gains so much momentum
that the operator cannot stop it,
that heavy load becomes a runaway.

Your instinct will be to grab the rope. Don’t.
If you are lucky, you will only burn
your hands as the rope races between them.

Much more likely, though, you will be carried
upwards by the rope – to be smashed into
the loading bridge, mangled by falling weights.

Should you survive this awful collision,
you will likely lose your grip on the rope
and scream back to the deck. This hurts like hell.

Learn this discipline, however unnatural:
When a line gets out of control, let go!
Don’t be a hero. Warn others. And run.

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