Saturday, February 15, 2020


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

Light gone,
curtain down
echoes ringing
in high shadows—
still he hears them,
live things he’d command to follow
through the exit door
briefly into blinding light.

And those faces—
pastiche of regard
that he used as his mirror
while he preened;
strained to see them, sly,
all downstage posing, to be sure,
not watching, not the way they looked at him,
not rapt and bold and senseless;
not like poor Narcissus, no,
caught up cold within his fatal gaze,
not at all, oh no.
They never knew he watched.
He must not lose himself in their plain sight,
could not lose himself,
they could not see him seeing.
He was more clever than that, he thought.
They were but the mirror,
reflecting, quick, the flash
of all his emptied art.

And where then might he turn?
There was not space enough to be
in the midst of the new emptiness.
Surely not the exit door, not yet;
not that undiscriminating light;
not that undirected clamor
brooking no silence, no graceful stop.

How might he own all that—
The indifferent stares
that would not recognize nor linger?
How might he hold those emptied eyes,
command such casual vision
to all his well-tuned verities.

Where, oh where to turn?
If only there were mirrors cast within,
if only he might satisfy himself
without resort to any art,
without regifting his whole world at large;
if only he could see the way they saw,
simple and with clarity.

Just for the moment,
moments like this,
when lights were faded
to their shadow homes on high;
with every echo and alarm
yet resonant, reprising absent charms.


  1. This is such a gorgeously worded epic poem, Steve!💝 I especially like; "not like poor Narcissus, no,caught up cold within his fatal gaze,not at all, oh no.They never knew he watched." I believe an actor experiences two lives .. one onstage.. and one offstage.💝

  2. This is a wow for me Steve. So evocative--and the actor--so chilling--gorgeously written

  3. Wow! Powerful writing...There are characters an actor performs that are hard to get rid times where does acting end and living begin

    1. Susie, I'll let you know when I find out. I've been a stage actor for fifty years, and I'm still surprised (every time) by the process. sk

  4. 'they could not see him seeing.." all the mysteries of any art in that line, for sure, that need to not just create, but assess reaction. This is a window into the soul of whatever role an actor has for himself--and I would think it would be quite a journey through the human labyrinth to find out, for surely there is no real separation in the end of the face and the mask for the audience, and yet, for the actor, here they seem to be quite different and troubling beings. A complex, rich and accomplished poem, Steve--and my pleasure to read it, whether I have read correctly or not.

  5. “If only there were mirrors cast within.” I love that thought and image.