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.



Ed Skoog

 Ed  Skoog Ed Skoog was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1971. His poems have appeared recently in Poetry, Ploughshares, The New Republic, New Orleans Review, The Canary, Fourteen Hills, Practice, and NO: a journal of the arts. He has been a scholar at the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, and won the 2005 William Faulkner Award in Poetry from the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. He teaches poetry at Idyllwild Arts
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