The Performer By Sy Roth

He brought his own band, poor troubadour,
speakers and amps,
two twin-tower ornaments for the back wall
spilling platonic sounds in a burbling, aphonic stream
filling in the gaps in the background noise of entrance
while the performer, weighed in heavily in the front row
fly casting about for his audience.

No grand entrances,
the papa waiting to fill the air.
His girth encompasses the space between here and there
as he fiddles with his Apple,
its digitized music wrapped in swampy remembrances of things past–
Puckett and Humperdinck rest in the synapses of an aged audience
And Elvis and Bennett marvel at their own awakening,
And his wife, devoted follower, claps on a spastic upbeat
memorializing the performance in her cam
as he winks and curls his lips around the ancient music
exhaling too many squealing notes
unleashing basso renditions of splishing and splashing,
And memories of Blueberry Hill,
And devotionals to San Francisco and New York, New York.

An ancient octogenarian mariner,
Naval veteran,
rises from his wheelchair,
finds his legs to ditty-bop to his own reminiscences
awkward spasms of gnarled, rickety hands find the beat
while the amused audience honors his effort
and laments their impending loss of legs and memory
until he drops back into his wheelchair
and finds the embrace of his au pere.

The performer drips through his rubicund shirt
and mops his cascading, sweaty brow
as the audience politely remembers to give him
a creaky, standing ovation, until this library, this venue,
engulfs him and them in its dreamy embrace–
until he trundles off to another nursing home
to find his next captive audience
where he can mount his ebon speakers once again
and continue his quest for digitized music in the bowels of his laptop,
trot out insouciant observations,
and wink his sadness at them for another shredded weekend
to entertain the walkers and the canes
and their memories
perhaps better left unsung.

©2018 Sy Roth


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