To my surprise I was suddenly cast in a packed-house play; granted a starring role in a carnival nightmare scene with a circus theme, a chaotic blur of mock-Prussian baton-major uniforms. My part was the Young Prince achieving his fame, looking down imperiously from the balcony.

With dawning horror I realized the second act would be performed semi-nude. But I found myself up to the tasks, and with rave reviews the show devolved into ecstatic debauchery. Orgiastic faerie handmaidens whirled in circles in flesh-colored stockings, beseeching and dancing to attend my princely whims. The stageplay grew ever more fevered, the swelling frenzy enveloping the audience in my kingdom of carnal delights, an empire of sin. As the bacchanal delirium turned more and more torrid, the self-loathing scents of desperation increased, art becoming life, players and audience fusing into one, spinning louder and faster and darker and lonelier. The crescendo peaked and the cacophony exploded into sudden silence, a discordant echo dying in abrupt darkness.

With unexpected clarity I caught a glimpse of the floor of a Walmart pharmacy, my head sideways against the cold tile. I was immediately thrust back into a solo spotlight, finding myself centered in an empty bathtub in an empty warehouse. I was reduced to playing a tin toy piano, thin atonal pieces, distant Dostoyevsky notes sounding small in the dusty concrete hall. Scattered handbills littered the floor with aging greyscale and fragments of fading red.

In a far corner, Sheldon was playing the part of an actor playing the part of an actor for five faerie handmaidens who stood stock-still, facing him, enraptured. I let him have the lead, and withdrew to a rain-slick brick alley behind the theatre to find my co-star struggling in a wheelchair, modestly clad in a rust-colored turtleneck sweater.


You're so natural
your spirit, free,
dances on the wind.

Everything you do,
it seems to me,
is done upon a whim.

Gazing out at the ocean
my heart beats cold
and small inside.

You live in my memory
while I grow old
I cannot hide.

I've been searching for someone
to fill the holes
of the empty truth.

The ocean bird soaring,
I spilled my soul
to shining youth.

I felt the chill wind
that held you in flight
aloft in the skies.

With trembling hands I reached
for you through the night.
I saw through your eyes.

And you flew away
into stars high above
never to be caught.

I stare at the ocean.
You've taken the love
that I gave for naught.

I grieve for my own sake,
empty once more,
thoughts of youth long dead.

And dream of you gliding
between the stars, your
beautiful wings outspread.

from the collection Beth by Kiss