I wanted to be a serious poet, but they are prone to heart attacks,
so I lightened up and became a playwright, rented a little studio where
I could audition the truth, ran an ad in the paper, “Desperately seeking reality.”
And some very interesting characters came to read. There was a sage
addicted to soap opera, a drunken lover who puked backstage, a lute player who was
cute, but really underage, a pot smokin’ bad boy rocker, a Rolling Stone cliché.
Then one moonless night a woman dressed in white:
She was crowned with stars, had a serpent round her right arm
Made a stripper roll with her hips, so I shouted, “Take it off!”
She peeled off layers, but every one showed only more clothes underneath
until the whole stage was a pile of costumes. This bored me,
but when I last looked, lightning sparkled under a black harness
and her tits glowed like skulls in the ovens of Auschwitz.
As any seeker would, I sat back and considered this, then gave her the lead
in a play I could never direct.
When the circus came round, as it did every year, I took work as a lion trainer,
And one eye on the rear view, left town for good.
Not a poet but a puppeteer, Rayn Roberts dangles figures on stage to share insights, protest or poke fun. Robert Frost & Charles Bukowski are partly responsible for teaching him to do this, but there are other perpetrators as well.