You fell into it like someone falling through a door
and found yourself in a cozy nightmare of spotlights,
naked onstage in a tiny theater where the audience
wore masks and wasn’t above slapping you around.
Your performance was subject to criticism from the start,
your size and shape and every breath you took measured
against an impossible ideal that would be the first of many,
the graded assessment gentle at first, isn’t he cunning,
only to gain rigor over time, Son, if you don’t shoot straight
in light this good you won’t get a rifle in this man’s army,
and Honey, if you can’t see Mama all night long you can’t
see Mama at all, until the day when none of it matters,
the trophy heads, certificates, all the stuff stuck to the wall,
as after minutes of strobe-lit frenzy, silence begins to yawn.
Herding you towards the exit, suddenly no one gives a shit
about your college boards or your frequent-flier miles.
Somehow the audience has shrunk, dwindled right on down
to one, and now it’s blame nobody, expect nothing, want
to know who’s responsible try looking in the mirror.
It’s supposed to concentrate the mind, a hanging,
circle up the synapses, and maybe it’s so in the movies,
but here at the edge of Albania nothing makes sense
for long, and you’ll just have to accept the absurd
explanation, or even the lack thereof, have to eat
whatever it is they are serving as the national cuisine:
eleven varieties of locust, plus the occasional cricket.
Well, it beats starving. Yes, Ma’am, I’ll take more. No, Sir,
I didn’t say a thing. Must’ve been the guy behind me.