by Steve Gaines

It was…
let’s see
thirty-plus years ago
in another life
when I used to throw myself
into a part ill-advised and out of control
when I would measure success
by volume and G-forces

of course it was well intentioned
playing everything with an over the top attack
and I was faultless in my blind enthusiasm
in my bombast and gymnastics
they were generally my only subtext
and for the most part got me by somehow
since I didn’t know “any better”
and since I was cast in all the “loud” parts anyway
I was young and vaguely searching for some technique
and I was forgiven

today
in the midst of “another life”
swimming cautiously in the tides
of the twenty-first century
I am afforded a new attempt at this old familiar role
the actor’s chance for forgiveness
a way at last beyond the inadequacies
of my ancient and innocent hopes
a chance to get beyond the little failures
that kept me wanting more
the echoes of the last big chance
that sustained my all those years ago

today
as the new millennium gets a good grip on history
I am given … out of the blue
what is surely a last chance…to do it right
well…at least to do it better

I have high hopes

since I am surrounded by the “youngest”
and most enthusiastic cast an old man
could hope to find himself surrounded by
…even though some of them aren’t all that young!
they certainly are enthusiastic

that’s good news and that’s bad news
my invention requires the feed back they can provide
and I
not infrequently
fly on the updrafts and currents of
all their incredible energy
all their electric eyes
all the willingness to share
their smiles
and caresses
but occasionally the smiles
and caresses get beyond my knees
in their calcified attempts
to keep up an impossible pace

but what the hell!

better to crash in the attempt than to limp along
on the too easy excuses of “old age”
better to bask selfishly…perhaps one last time…
in all this incredible “attention”
all this help and support from so willing a cast
a cast so able to hold me up
so willing to push me over edges
to leave me in free fall
far too high for “old actors”
so willing to catch me before I land
to put me down gently and in the proper places

I am thankful for this “one last” chance
and promise myself
not to mention my grand children
to stick to the old man parts from now on…

probably…

Posted by Steve Gaines

Steve Gaines was born a poet. He is a student of Nebraska: The University, The People, The Land, The Spirit. Mr. Gaines does not shudder from his own reflection. Mr. Gaines is presently retired from a professional acting career after successfully retiring from a 30 year association with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska ETV Network. He has been a proud member of Actor's Equity and was recently awarded the Mayor's Performance Arts Award for 2012.  He also performed the role of President James Garfield in a readers theatre production of the book -- "Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President" -- with the Radio Active Theatre group.  Mr. Gaines presently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. He shares life with his lovely wife Sharon, and together they fawn over five children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and he is a grandpa-in-law three times, too!

One Comment

  1. […] town, a long constructive life of making things to last. Everywhere now in his decline were the monuments of his having passed that way, standing in red clay and mortar, signs of a man’s existence no […]

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