A Thespian’s Thoughts in Verse

by Vijay S.
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The following poems are included in this collection:

Color-Changing Rose

Color-changing rose he is
Chameleon of the first order
He’s not what he seems to be
But almost always something else

Master in the game of guise
He masquerades with myriad names
His voice too varies every day—
He’s old one night and young the next.

This man deals in make-believe
His sleight of hand is unparalleled
He sometimes believes his own lies
And forgets who he really is

Shameless to shed everything,
Nor even to change his sex,
Worshiper of all nakedness,
He fantasizes truthfully

He kills and robs and confesses
He almost does but does not do
He’s both a sinner and a saint
And everything that lies between.

This man responds truthfully
To circumstances that are not!
But how well does the actor know
The actor’s role he’s here to play?

One-Act Play

Between two shows
Of our one-act play
On the same day,
At a stolen
Private moment,
In full voyeuristic view
Of the green room’s
Gazing lights,
I proposed my love
Directly into her eyes
And into her soul.

We fell hopelessly
In love
And got married
During the show
That followed,
And then got divorced,
Promptly,
Right after.

The ‘Method’ to Kill

“Go and kill him” –
The maiden muttered
In a deep, magnetic voice,
Resonant
With a righteous thirst
For revenge.

“Yes, I shall” – I look
Into those shining eyes
And mine own catch
The moral rage,
Only to match
The blood-boiling thirst
For justice—
Jungle justice.

“I do as you say” – I say,
“But, what if perchance he wakes up?”

“He shall not” – she reassures,
“Not if you make not a sound”

“Will strangling work fine
Or smothering do a neater job?
Or, won’t it be much better,
For sheer bitter-
Sweet animal pleasure,
To drive in
And dig my mighty molars
Deep into that greedy neck
That, I imagine, would aptly smell
Of fresh blood and forgotten sin?”

“No matter the mode or method,
Kill him you should, that’s the deal!”

“Kill him I should! Kill him I should!
Or should I at all?
Isn’t death a deliverance,
An easy passage for the bastard?
Won’t I want to rip him up,
Gouge his eyes, and skin him ’live?”

“Revenge, when it’s incomplete,
Only more of itself does it breed.
You don’t hit a stealthy snake
To set it free to go its way –

It shall get back, sure, some day.
Snuff it out; it’s poisonous;
Not all killing is a crime.” –
She went on and on to instigate
Like Lady Macbeth incarnate.

“Okay, ma’am! I’ll try my best
And trust you about all the rest” –
I say this in a reverent tone
And step on to the rehearsal stage,
While my acting instructor,
The benevolent lady in front of me,
Watches me slip into the role
And smiles gently as I kill.

Yet Another Definition of Art

“Art . . . ,”
The hardened politician started,
With uncalled-for pomp
And undeserved flamboyance,
Groping for a grand,
Graceful metaphor.
He was addressing
A gathering
Of artists, poets, critics,
Theoreticians,
Academicians,
And . . .
Others—
Basically, all voters,
At the end of the day,
For all practical purposes—
His purposes, that is.

“Art is . . . ,”
He started once again,
With his politician’s brain
Promptly pruning
Among the possibilities
To find the perfect predicate—
Popular,
Not necessarily pithy.

The creators and the scholars
Waited with bated breath
While the masses were all agog.

For a brief moment,
He thought of it
In terms of “collective intelligence,”
But mention of intelligence,
He surmised,
Might make it unpopular
With the majority.

His shrewd mind scored out,
In one quick stroke,
Sensitivity,
Responsibility,
Ethics,
Justice,
Values,
Morals,
Standards,
And everything along that paradigm.

Big words and complex concepts,
Years in politics had taught him,
Were anathema to the masses.
They must only be used
To wriggle out of a tough situation,
A scandal, or a scam;
Otherwise, they deserve
Only to be mocked at.
And anyone who used them otherwise—
Let him be a poet, artist, scholar, critic,
Theoretician, academician, thinker,
Even a philosopher—
He was convinced,
Could only be
Either genuinely confused
Or deliberately confusing.

The masses loved simplicity,
For that is what their simple minds
Could cope with,
Whereby a falsehood stood
A higher chance of being celebrated
For its simplicity,
And a sacred truth, of being scorned
For its complexity.

Downing a soda
And clearing his throat,
Decidedly he started, once again,
This time with conspicuous conviction,
Not to mention clarity,
“Art is . . . ,”
Left a dramatic pause
And a brilliant smile
To build anticipation,
And finally rounded it off neatly
With “Art is just whatever you think it is”
To a deafening applause
From the majority.

The creators and scholars
Exchanged knowing glances,
Saddened by the sacrifice
Of yet another sacred space
In the human soul
To yet another
Politically correct definition,
In exchange for some cheap popularity
And the political power it promises.

Nick Bottom

When sunny smiles and cozy hugs
Have faded into sentiment,
When all the truth and earnestness
Have long become a boring joke,
Drop it all and kiss the Earth
And put your ears to the ground.
Wait. Listen. Now, don’t you move, and
Listen to those lofty words.
Listen, listen, with your heart …
Message from the underground!
Magic, magic, in the air; now
Midsummer night’s dreams galore.
A magic trick, with sleight of hand,
Or witches’ brew or love potion …
Use the magic, fantasize, but
Don’t you linger; go past it.
After all, just an illusion, but
Dreams are so true while they last!
You can lie to find the truth
Or love an ass and find your self.
Wear a mask, well, if you should, but
Have a true face underneath.
No harm if you “act as if,” for
Nick Bottom is everyone.
The converse isn’t always true.
Not all can be Nick Bottom!
Vasanta kāle samprāpte
Nick Bottom is Nick Bottom.

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