Pinwheels, rockets, flares—stage left.
Paper birds on thin wood dowels, a few
fake trees—stage right. A yellow moon,
inflatable blue-eyed doll dragging a toe
tag, front and center, please.
Metal bed on a raised platform, peeling
wallpaper, a red neon sign, screams of
pleasure, grunts, sighs, muffled slaps,
sobs leading to a struggle, gunshots,
hospital scene, death, trial, verdict—
in that order.
No need to apologize for the play’s
predictability, no need to raise the
curtain again. The audience left at
intermission along with the disgruntled
reviewer and usherette. The ghost light
is on. Sunday will be black.
Bank robbery in Evanston; armed robbery alert in Pilsen;
flash-mobs in the Loop; drive-by shootings in West Pullman,
Uptown, Humboldt Park; random murders, attempted
murders, aggravated batteries, hit-and-runs in Englewood,
North Parkside Avenue, Bronzeville; tainted drugs, heroin
overdoses everywhere; indecent solicitation; rape; predatory
criminal sexual assault of a minor; false police reports; all
kinds of victims maimed: one by falling glass in Streeterville,
one shot in the chest, one shot in the legs and hand; all kinds
of perps: six-feet-six guys, some five-feet-five, one barely
four-feet-four and 180 pounds running on foot, giving us a
run for our money in stolen cars, hiding in alleys, behind
false walls, in apartment bathrooms, dank basements.
They’re wearing black jackets and blue jeans when we catch
them; they’re wearing blue peacoats, dark glasses, white
baseball caps with gold crossed swords logo; they’re wearing
grey sweatshirts, grey sweatpants when we bring them down,
when we bring them in. Innocent? Of course they are! And
this is only Friday night.
Curved windows glazed with light at five p.m.,
view of a lake, white sailboats on blue waves,
dark blue reflections, view of a city vista; more
dazzling light that streams in through garden
balustrades at dusk; polite conversation over
mushrooms stuffed with feta cheese, liver pâté;
dinner of pheasant; pleasant “Goodnights” at
eleven; slamming doors, doors slamming; snorts
and snores of a Havanese dog who’ll soon walk
through blood while ghost koi swim their fixed
path in the living room aquarium.
have it any way you want. Fly if you can. Buy some paper wings,
glue them on. Defy the odds. Get some culture, write that noir
best seller, listen to Wagner’s “Liebestod” through too-thin walls
with a jelly jar, watch that tightrope act that is “you,” right outside
your seventh-floor window, pick the wrong woman to trust. She
won’t be waiting at the other end of the rope.
Forget that morning moon hanging in the sky. Forget those reluctant
stars caught in a miasma of cloth clouds. Arc lights erased them long
ago along with all those bright secondhand set pieces. Everything is
chiaroscuro now, surreal—a real Siodmak movie.
And you, what about you? You’re just another actor in a low-budget
film waiting for the walk-on role that might make you memorable
before the director’s signature, It stinks—Print it!
Jenene Ravesloot is a member of The Poets’ Club of Chicago, the Illinois State Poetry Society, Poets & Patrons, and the TallGrass Writers Guild. She has written three books of Poetry: Loot: Stolen Memories & Tales Out of School, The Chronicles of Scarbo, andFloatingWorlds. Jenene has published in The Poetry Storehouse, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Packingtown Review, The Miscreant, After Hours Press, Exact Change Only, Sam Smith’s The Journal in the UK, THIS Literary Magazine, and other online journals, print journals, and anthologies