Ed Skoog
Being in Plays

Ethics are learned from who you sleep with

the first few times, and theater is sex,

almost. Being in it, I mean, and being young,

with a lot of group undressing

and silence in darkness, chaste

permissions of the cast party,

spiked punch in the recreation room.

I was always cast as Old Man                                                          

with tennis-shoe polish for white hair

and lines drawn where my lines now are,

forehead haiku, the eye’s briffits,

and parentheses around the muzzle.

My face was learning its worry

in quarter-smile and one-eyebrow raise.

I guess I miss it, achievement’s sense,

the way a show’s run ends

and everyone knows it together,

a social pain, like the death

of a popular imaginary friend.

When lights between scenes dim,

I like to see actors take props off stage

or team up with stagehands to move

the built elements of our fantasy.

I hope they keep going and take

some properties home to mix in

with private dramas. I pass theaters

the way I pass churches, but like

better this foldable theater

half-constructed on page or mind.

Sometimes it gets thrown away

among receipts, but nothing’s really lost.

I carry my own props in—red telephone,

bowl of apples—and then with me

back into the unseen.

Found In Volume 43, No. 01
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  • Skoog
Ed Skoog
About the Author

Ed Skoog is the author of the poetry collections Mister SkylightRough Day,  Run the Red Lights, and Travelers Leaving for the City.