Shawn McAllister

Rookie (January 22,1944 / San Antonio, Texas)

Opening Night - Poem by Shawn McAllister

Opening night, butterflies are floating
the crowd anticipating, and backstage waiting

Tell me, Saint Genesius,
what ghost you send tonight
to fill my heart with laughter—
to stock my mind with fire!
And tell me, Saint Genesius,
what performance shall I give
to hear the thunder of applause
from within these silent chambers?

The stage is bare,
lamps dark and gelled;
the grid creaks its deserted chant;
all the while somewhere in the rafters,
amidst the array of Lekos and Fresnels,
hangs the spirit of the centuries.

The sounds
multiply, like echoes in a hollow;
footsteps in the wings;
“Places! ” –then—

A deadly silence;
the stage is lit
as the traveler makes its way
to rest behind the portal,
and there am I, centerstage,
before a hollow house filled with ages.

My performance must begin;
so tell me, Saint Genesius,
what immortal cry
must I give
to pacify the stillness?

On opening night
I await the anxious moment,
thunderous applause
or quiet crowdly murmurs
once final curtains fall
and last bows have been taken.
Will it keep mankind awake
and the burning stagelights lit,
or simply dim another nightlight
on an empty stage?

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, August 17, 2008

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