Almost a Star
The Lido was a dump of a movie house down
Rocky Hill toward Francis Scott Key Bridge,
left on M Street, straight ahead for almost a mile,
just past the hardware store with its wooden
Indian outside proffering wooden cigars.
Some nights, when my Dad didn't work
overtime, he'd flip me a dime and send me off
to The Lido for an evening's film so
he and Mom could have private time
without my gyrations and meddling curiosity.
Some weeks I'd be there every school night.
Most weeks the same film played every night.
Never first-run movies, usually B's and C's,
occasionally Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney
rebounding for another pass at local aficionados.
I fell for Judy just like dumb-struck Mickey did,
and by Friday had memorized the words
to all her songs, singing along with the crowd.
It was great fun, excellent vocal training,
and I'd skip home trying out some of her dance
routines too, with just enough spunk in my step
to make me think I should head for Hollywood.
But it all collapsed when the big war began
festering in earnest on two fronts, Dad having
to spend more time at the post office after hours.
Heck, I was on my way, could have been a star,
made a name for myself, up there in lights.
Holy Mother, I could have been Judy Garland.
I sit again at my old high school desk,
fifty years after having abandoned it.
I know it's mine: my initials, BR,
are carved deep in the upper right corner
and the gigantic wad of Double Bubble
is hidden dead-center underneath where
I'd plastered it as a memento for my return.
Why worry about short-term memory
when I can recall so much from the past?
It was here, if not in this very seat,
at this same desk where I decided
to forego sports and start using my head
to get somewhere in this world,
go on to college and have a future.
Did I succeed? Depends a lot on how
you choose to look at it: I'm 68
sitting here again, in reasonable health,
a wallet full of money, and memories
of a life rather well spent, more yet
to come, if I'm lucky enough to persist.
I'm merely tired, exhausted by the chase,
the eternal quest for more money and
all the goodies it can buy for me
and my family and, yes, friends, too.
Our fiftieth high school reunion will be
celebrated this weekend, and I sit here
musing, wondering if I should reach
under the desk, pry loose that wad,
see if there's any flavor left.
©2009 by Bill Roberts
Bill Roberts has solved the mystery as to why his Oklahoma grandparents
were able to produce 22 offspring while he and wife of 51 years have none, yet --
they both come from a long, prolific line of sterile people.
Bill's poetry, nearly a thousand poems, have appeared in about 200 online
and small-press magazines over the past 15 years.
He dwells too near the edge of Broomfield, Colorado.