Poet: Justin Karcher | Photo of Shea’s: Joe Cascio
It’s Sunday morning and me and Carly oversleep
And we’re late to Chris’s 50th birthday party setup.
She quickly sends him a text and I put on last night’s suit
And we race out the apartment to Alleyway Theatre,
A couple of shooting stars who always pick the wrong time
To pull the cosmic trigger.
The problem with shooting stars
Is timing. You need a blanket of black
To really make your mark, for people
To look up and see the last sighs
Of silence before the explosions
Take root and grow, when the skies
Become jam-packed with trees on fire,
When dreamers on earth are ready to climb,
Not caring that their fingers will be like cigarettes
Or that their skins will burn off like chemo.
Buffalo’s full of shooting stars that not everyone can see.
Anyway, me and Carly are driving to Alleyway,
Bills pregame show blasting on the radio,
And we’re talking about Chris, about his passion,
About how much he cares, how he’s still a dreamer
After all these years. The best thing about a dreamer like Chris
Is that he’s okay with combusting,
That he’s ready to climb up those trees
Of fire and if he loses half his body
In the process, then so be it,
Because when you wanna be a shooting star,
You gotta expect a little collateral damage.
You must put on a mask and abandon all sense of self.
After all, we’re artists who lose ourselves night after night,
Actors who cram ourselves into cannons
And light the fuse, launching ourselves
Into different skeletons, actors who overdose on passion
On dark stages in sometimes-empty theaters
Making pennies or nothing at all,
Actors who swallow someone’s words,
Eating gallons of ink until each word
Becomes an octopus grabbing the attention
Of everyone. Big dreams aren’t easy to accomplish,
But they’re worth the hard work.
They’re fun to stand on. They make you taller
So you can see the bigger picture,
And sometimes the bigger picture
Is covered with sweat, and whenever
I see Chris on stage, he’s always sweating
And I always think I should collect that sweat
Then I can be a traveling passion salesman
Going from school to school and selling them
To acting students learning the craft. I’ll stand
On a milk crate in every college quad in Western
New York and declare to the huddled masses,
“Drink this if you want to be an actor!
Drink this if you want to give a shit about art,
About culture – oh, this is the sweat of a man
Who works tirelessly to lose himself!
Drink up my children and rush onto any stage
You can find, show off your frenzied chops
Like you’re in a theatrical steakhouse.”
Oh, and if there’s enough of Chris’s sweat
When all’s said and done, I’ll create a river
Of passion in Buffalo’s Theatre District,
A river running from West Tupper to Chippewa,
Where we can all put on masks and skinny dip
And soothe our burnt skins. When me and Carly
Arrive at Alleyway, the party setup’s in full swing.
The party’s in a few hours. We move a piano
And blow up some balloons. It’s a fantastic feeling,
Letting go of all that hot air. Now’s the time for creative honesty,
For genuineness, for us to celebrate a birthday,
But more importantly, to celebrate the contagiousness
Of someone’s passion, of someone who still gives a shit
About the stuff that dreams are made of. After setting up,
Me and Carly are smoking in the alleyway,
And all I can think about is a river of passion
Cutting through the heart of Downtown Buffalo,
A river of octopi grabbing everyone with tentacles
And pulling them down into a world of masks
And sweat. Tonight, I will drink a lot of champagne
And celebrate those of us who still give a shit.