Saturday, October 1, 2016

For Jem Rolls: On the End of the Fringe and the Coming Winter

Dear Jem,
Only you
Could have written
With such insight and passion
About summer '16 on the road.
The permutations and the combinations
and the machinations
the money making
and the money losing
the worry
and the bitching
and the magic
and the pleasure and
the beauty
and the magic
and the
art and the joy and
the fun, fun, fun
until September rolls away...

One old grey, gloomy certainty
hangs over us all:
winter is coming.

We have survived other winters, you and I
In Winnipeg,
For the love of freezing!
I cherish my memories of you
wandering the streets of Fort Rouge
Talking to yourself like a madman
As you prepared for the inevitable
of seasons, and your next show.
I was just shivering over to Safeway or the MLCC.
No poetry was coursing through me,
Just thoughts of my next dinner
Or the week ahead at work.

The quotidian is not your metier,
All this fretting about ticket prices,
and board decisions
and un-lotteries,
and lousy, under-qualified reviewers
and whether or not
the clowns and the improvisors
and the re-mounters
Will inherit the circuit
Is just sound and fury
Signifying one sorry certainty:
The tour is over for another year.

Winter is coming: but spring will follow.

In eight months:
you'll be back,
a return as inevitable as robins
tender leaves and a warmer sun.

We're writers:
Nothing is going to shut us up,
 although we may
Spend the next few months indoors
in the zone of rumination and creation.
We need to really:
that new show won't write itself.
There will be another stage
and another audience
and more nights of
donning the motley
and going here and there:
So fret not:
There's only one Jem Rolls
and you must do
what you must do: write more poems.

Face it;
there's no point in worrying about money,
as my old dad often pointed out:
you're born owing the hospital
and you die owing the undertaker.

Sure five stars, a 300 seater and a sold-out run
in every town on the circuit
might make for a better winter someplace warm,
but you didn't think being a poet
was any way to get rich,
did you?

No one is getting rich out there:
We all know it.

We've done what we loved
with people we loved being with.
And on a good night, we put on a good show
people who spend their time off with us
enjoy themselves and give us $10 apiece.

I feel richer every time I get to do it.
For now I'll keep daily grinding
my way out of (tour) debt and treasure
my horde of memories
of time well wasted
with you sorry lot
on the road.

Sometimes the stars align
(and no, not the ones in the papers
on top of the reviews)
and you go home in September
ahead and not behind
with the bank and the backers.

Sometimes not.

Forget about money.

This was never about money.
It's a lottery.

Can you win a lottery?
Sure. We've both won CAFF.
And sometimes, you get that hit and the hold-over:
the dosh and the glory and the touch of envy.

The Fringe is about art and ideas and pleasure.
It is about intellectual freedom and being a free spirit
in a room full of free spirits being spirited together.

Uplift me
in the beer tent
and tell me of your travels
when next we meet.

The stars will align:
There will be more poetry,
More passion,
More pleasures
More warm, lovely summer nights.


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