Written, Directed by and Starring . . .


The scripts I used to write for the young actor--
me--weren't used. And now I couldn't play
the original parts and, as director,
I'd turn myself, if I applied, away.

My break will come; but now the star's mature
his parts need character and 'love' is out.
He learns to smile on birth and death, to endure:
it's strange I keep the old scripts lying about.

Looking them over I've at times forgot
they've never been put on. I seem to spend
too much time reading through a final shot
where massed choirs sing, they kiss and then THE END.

It's hard to start upon this middle phase
when my first period never reached the screen,
and there's no end now to my new screen-plays,
they just go on from scene to scene to scene.

The hero never hogs the screen because
his wife, his children, friends, events intrude.
When he's not on the story doesn't pause--
not if he dies. I don't see why it should.


James Simmons, Poems 1956-1986, The Gallery Press, 1986.