Turn off the lights, remind
The operator of his union card
—Weldon Kees, “Subtitle”

You won’t be caught out here in your street clothes.
There’s time. And if not, dive behind that rock.
I’m waiting, still reading poems on center stage.
It’s true, Tonio knows his clowns—hiding so carefully on the other side
of the gold curtain—he’s hanging out alone with his audience.
Obviously, it’s easy enough for him to propose words
from the poet’s heart.

But if you are here for the verisimo flavor,
you’ll find my own leitmotifs overexposed.
On this side of the curtain the work lights are often on—
and with a broken rheostat—the hue is bright daylight.
We can’t put gels over everything.
Last night. Lucia tried to work things out—
remember her? She’s been around before.
Whitman mentioned her once—he said “I see
poor crazed Lucia’s eyes unnatural gleam,

her hair down her back falls loose
and dishevel’d” You’d think she’d have learned.
She fails, fails beautifully. But that’s tomorrow night.

Tonight, Ravenswood is still unresolved
and we’ve almost made the village of Montalto.
A large tree grows on stage right—greenish leaves
touched up just this afternoon with chlorophyll paint.
A migrant theater wagon waits stage left.
The brown horse, calmer than her new handler,

is hitched and ready to go.
Off stage, and assistant waits
with a shovel, a bucket, and a well used broom.
Which reminds me, an old stagehand told me gand opera
was aroused from the sexual writhings leading towards death.
Such insight! And that same day
a costume designer commented “this opera
should resurrect the Greek phallus.”
He said something about honesty, traditional costumes,
et cetera, et cetera—you’ll see.

I will leave you with a trinket of pasticcio—yellow green and left over cashews
from last night’s backstage dinner for rich patrons—
there’s even a half bottle of flat Moet-Chandon
sitting in the prop room—
yours if you want. I’m too tired for it.
Fantasy is exhausting.
The change over from the Rigoletto rehearsal
took too long—no dinner break, and no chance to take my shoes off.

What’s interesting about opera?
After Canio claims “Comedy is final”
we can talk. Of course he meant that.
I’m not so tired anymore. Fantasy is invigorating.

When tonight’s final curtain comes rushing in
wait for me at the stage door.
We’ll go to Pat’s Bar.