Saturday, August 13, 2016

Poetry & Portraits: Sondheim

By Eric Meub


Has no one seen? Has no one yet been told
      a star is being born in me at last?
Who grouses I’m too old, that I’m a mold
      from which one character alone is cast?

No patrons sponsor me, no grants endow;
      my reputation tangles in decay.
Explain, Director, how I happen now
      to learn the lines I was supposed to say.

I need a role, a chorus line, a team,
      and roses showering my curtain call.
Instead the dancers seem to hear a theme
      that isn’t in the musical at all.

The ghosts of middle class illusions haunt
      the disappointments of an also-ran.
I’m not quite right: you want some debutante
      to lend distinction to your leading man.

It’s good to have so little future left:
      the critics only pollinate the blame.
Besides, I’m too bereft to stage the theft
      of shows and scenes that put my own to shame.

Why must you keep me in this tired revue?
      Why fertilize frustration over art?
Why am I still to you an ingénue
      who can be propped on stage to play her part?

The tissues strip my make-up, choice by choice;
      tomorrow isn’t greener than today.
Shall my recorded voice still sing Rejoice!
      each time you choose to press the button Play?

I’ve got impressive fears behind this pout:
      how bad can health and finance issues get?
I harbor more of doubt to fret about
      than having not been born a Bernadette.

Don’t check your calendar: I won’t be free.
      Don’t tell me who’s the newest toast in town.
And please, in case of mediocrity,
      don’t send me in: I’m not a goddamned clown.

Copyright © 2016 by Eric Meub
Eric Meub, architect, lives and practices in Pasadena. He is the adopted brother of the artist, Susan C. Price. They respect, in their different ways, the line.


  1. I must admit to feeling this way often myself. Good stuff Eric

  2. Eric, I enjoyed the challenge of learning to pronounce "MEE-dee-AWK-crit-TEE" to accord with all of the other stanzas' third-line internal rhymes ("old, that I’m a mold," "how I happen now," "seem to hear a theme," etc.). Your technical brilliance and facility never cease to amaze (and provoke jealousy).

  3. Eric, thanks for another well-crafted poem, whose theme of disillusion and failure is thereby ironically refuted. Brilliant!