Excerpt

1. I can’t do this by myself What in the hell am I doing here anyway Oh my god I’m talking to myself again…get a grip Sky get a fuckin grip What would all of these lovely people think if they knew about the things that went on inside of your head The constant rambling the back-talk the disrespect GET A GRIP Ok concentrate on what you’re going to say when you get out there Fuck What am I going to say These people don’t know me they don’t want to hear my half-baked poems and words I need a drink Oh I stopped drinking didn’t I When did that happen Oh yeah last night was supposed to be it Well isn’t that great I stopped drinking right when I need a drink the most Is that the door Oh the door is opening someone’s coming Am I on so soon I’m so not ready Straighten up Sky get a grip

“Allo Mate.”

 Allo Mate What the fuck did I cross the Atlantic without realizing it Who in the world is this dude. Allo Mate

“Umm..Hey..Hi. What’s happenin?” I wonder if he can tell I’m nervous, geesh who is he.

“Nervous, heh? First time? Yeah I remember my first time; it was at this dive called The Sandtrap. Ever heard of it? I think it closed down some 15 years ago. 15 years. Time flys.”

“Time doesn’t fly. It escapes.” There you go now get settled Settle down. Converse with the man. “We tend to think we have some type of ownership over time when really we’re doing nothing but holding it captive; we don’t own time no more than the zoo owns those animals over there; or a prison owns a criminal. No, we’re just holding on to it, sometimes abusing it, sometimes…” Stop rambling Sky, he gets the point.

“Yeah huh? You’re a wordy fellow I see. Charles.”

He sticks out his hand to me like we’re old fishing buddies. He expects to get a handshake, expects me to touch him. Why? Let me think about this. He’s an older gentleman, obviously not from around here. Tall and skinny; I’d say about six feet even. Rounded spectacles, graying hair…is that a hearing aid in his right lobe? I think it is. He can’t see and he can’t hear. A foreigner. A poet. Wait, he’s getting nervous now. Did I wait too long to reciprocate the touch gesture? I hope it’s not too late.

“Everyone calls me Sky.” Contact. Good. He’s a firm shaker. So am I; I might like this guy after all.

“Oh yeah, why’s do they do that?”

“Most likely because that’s what my mother named me.” Dufus. I’m such a dufus at times. ‘everyone calls me sky.” Well of course they do you dufus, that’s your name. I wonder if he is saying that to himself right now. This stranger thinks I’m a dufus and it’s all my fault. He’s chuckling. I’ll chuckle too…he’ll think it all a joke and we can forget the whole thing. He’s bluffing. I know he thinks I’m a dufus.

“Are you speaking tonight or just in the greenroom to see all the stars?”

He’s joking right. There wouldn’t be any real ‘stars’ in this greenroom. Just me and him probably. Me, a star. Yeah ok. He must be joking. That’s a pretty funny joke actually. I’ll laugh.

“Heh, yeah I guess I’m going to do something.” He probably expects me to ask about him. But I stay away from asking questions when I really don’t care about the answer. Obviously he’s not going to let me sit here with my thoughts; goodness he’s already on to the next silence breaker. Who is this guy?

“To be honest with ya kid…”

Kid? I’m damn near 30 years old and he’s calling me Kid. Kid. Right.

“…I’m a little nervous myself. I haven’t done something on this level in quite some time. You never answered me though, first time?”

First time. What does it matter to him. Dude get over your own nervousness, stop trying to use me to forget about your self-esteem issues. Is it my first time…

“Yeah. At least, first time here. My agent got me the gig to pub up this book I got coming out.”

“Agent huh? What’s his name? Maybe I know him…Hell, maybe I fired him.”

“You wouldn’t know him, he’s new to the business and the area. I met him three months ago while I was working at a bar…” Damn, was it three months ago…time escapes for real. “…From the way he was talking I thought he was trying to pick me up…” Gay dudes do that all the time, fuckers I’m not gay leave me alone. “…but right before I got too offended he came out with it. He saw me recite at the bar one day and thought he could get me a book deal. The rest is history I guess.” Now who’s using who? Shut up Sky.

Silence, finally. Hopefully one of us will get called up soon. My thoughts have slowed, I might be able to get through this alive.

“Well are you?”

I guess I ask for too much at times. “Am I what?”

“Gay.”

“Excuse me?” From the tone of my voice I’m sure he gets the point. Now this conversation is really over.

“I’m sorry…you never know these days.”

”Well I know.”

The door again. Please take me away from this. Please. I will not take another minute of this torture of having to make pleasantries with yet another stranger moments before the most stressful event of my life. Please.

“SKY?” It always amuses me when a stranger says my name. Sometimes they confuse the infliction and say it as if it were the actual sky and not someone’s name…like this lady.

Finally I get to leave. The stage. 20 feet by 30 feet of territory. I only need five. Goodness, how many people are out there? Two-hundred? Three? Might as well be a million. Might as well be one.

My words:

She whispered,

‘that was sweet. a simple pleasure pain.

sweet word kisses, but painful stabs of reality

in whose mind they were birthed from.’

She thanks me for the soul hug and I proceed to cry.

I could never have lived up to her expectation of man

and was foolish to even try.

She told me that “only the daring souls who will brave the cold of living inside of their

fantasy will experience the heaven of Life.”

And if breathing were as exciting as sex, no one would be afraid to die.

She held me longer than I expected but let go well too soon

and dropped more significance in my mind, without even trying,

reminding me of what I am to lose.

Right now I’m on my back listening to the nothingness of my life’s sound.

She said, “I’m only backwards because you are looking in a different direction.

Turn Around.”

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