That time I was left for dead downstage
by James Morehead
8th grade. My big break.
The play was something Western.
I had a single line
and every actor's dream—
a dramatic death.
I had to learn how to act with a beard
glued on in pieces,
the fake hair tickling the bottom of my nose.
I wore it home for a day
to get used to the feel,
my family swallowed giggles during dinner.
Opening night approached.
My heart raced
imagining the curtain
opening on one hundred seated shadows,
that single line I kept forgetting.
Whispers from the director.
Time ran out.
It was decided—my debut line was cut.
With a full beard glued on in pieces,
tickling the bottom of my nose,
a long black coat and top hat,
boots one size too big,
I walked into the spotlight, said nothing,
was shot and left for dead
at the edge of the stage.
I remember lying there,
unable to move,
silently mouthing my line over
and over and over
sensing classmates' footsteps
avoiding my corpse.
About the Author
James Morehead is Poet Laureate of Dublin, California. "canvas: poems” is his debut collection, and he hosts The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast (available on all major podcast streaming platforms). James' poem "tethered" was transformed into an award-winning hand drawn animated short film, and "landscape" was published by Wingless Dreamer. “These are poems to be savored, re-read, kept handy for those times when only poetry will do.” - W. J. T. Mitchell, Senior Editor of Critical Inquiry and Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, English and Art History, University of Chicago