A Poem for The Man in the Wings
Someone I knew died last night. Suddenly. Heart attack. His passing leaves an empty space in our community.
I didn’t know him well, but that’s beside the point. He was kind and creative and made the coolest puppets I’d ever seen. Each one was a work of art, distinct in their detail and personality. I used to wonder what his house looked like with a crowd of his creation filling it. If they all talked at once, what a fabulous cacophony!
He always encouraged me in my writing. Whenever he saw one of my plays he always made it a point to send a message congratulating me. That meant a lot. I know he’d seen a helluva lot of plays.
He was a member of the IATSE union, worked in the wings at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. When I attended plays there I could always see his distinct outline moving set pieces in the blue dark of the scene-change light. When he found out my play Rush was going to go up there this February, he messaged me to congratulate me and we made plans to celebrate with a beer at Darwins, his hangout pub right around the corner.
It’s the little things like that you look forward to. Sure, my play is going up, there’ll be opening night stuff happening, all the big deal stuff going on, but I thought it was really great that one of crew, one of the “cool” people in our theatre world, wanted to have a beer with me.
That beer is still going to happen. Anyone who wants to join me, Feb 14, yes, valentines, can lift a pint to Buzz Schwall and all the people who’ve touched our lives. All the people we miss.
Here in the Valley Between
Everything today asks the same question,
the great mystery our lives:
How long do we have here?
Across the inlet, two volcanoes
stare into the east, their steep faces
bathed in the soft light of this particular earth day.
But what of evening? when the sun
fires the atmosphere
and the inferno remembers
why it is here among us
–Creation and Destruction–
How audacious I am
brushing my teeth against decay, boiling water
for an egg three minutes from now, telling a friend I will attend
the Breast Cancer luncheon next Wednesday.
Tomorrow and tomorrow
and the day after that, I have plans
here in the valley between two volcanoes.
Probably not tonight, but eventually
they’ll shatter our sky. Let’s agree now to look
for each other in the morning.