The thing is…

We are all characters,
characters in a play,
a play of our own making.

And we can change the set,
and the lights,
and the stage.

Wear make-up,
or not.
Hell, even a wig.

We can even alter
our character,
or play several at once.

But the music –
so little of that is in our control.

And the audience,
the one we imagine and prepare for,
rarely arrives.

The one in the front, center,
is the one who came –
not always the one we want.

And when the tickets sell,
it’s often not for the right reasons,
whatever they are, but most certainly the wrong,
which we usually know, or can at least imagine most clearly.

The marquee always gets it wrong.
It’s salacious, and we are all bones, atoms,
and other things not illuminated by lights.

So the show goes,
sometimes with tap dancing,
and we sing.

Deirdre Fagan is a widow, wife, and mother of two. Her poem, “Outside In,” nominated by Nine Muses Poetry, was a finalist for Best of the Net 2018, and her poem “Homesick,” was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart by Constellate Literary Journal. She has a chapbook, Have Love, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Fagan is the author of the book Critical Companion to Robert Frost and has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as a number of critical essays on poetry, memoir, and teaching pedagogy. She is associate professor and coordinator of creative writing at Ferris State University. Meet her at

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