When I was a freshman in high school and my brother Andy was younger, we formed our own band with me on piano and Andy on drums. Before Andy got his drum set, we improvised. Our front porch had steps that led up to it so we pretended it was a stage. Andy found an old piece of wood for me to use as a microphone, an empty paint can for him to use as a drum, and another wood chip to use as a drum stick. I stood on the edge of the porch before an imaginary roaring crowd and sang my heart out, accompanied by Andy on his pretend drum.
When I wrote the following poem about this memory, I included lyrics to the songs I sang. However, I would have had to get permission from Olivia Newton-John, Debbie Boon, and Paul Simon in order to publish the poem with the lyrics included. For a while, I performed the poem at readings, singing the songs as I went along. When I decided to submit it for publication, I removed the lyrics and paraphrased the songs instead.
As a special treat for my readers, I’ll provide two versions: the print version without the lyrics and below that, a link to a recording of me reading the poem with lyrics included. This poem appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders. When I was young, I dreamed of being a singer, but that dream was never accomplished; yet, I’m happy.
WHEN I WAS A STAR
I stood on the front porch,
a piece of wood to my lips, sang
while my brother went rat-a-tat tat
on an empty paint can.
I was Olivia Newton-John,
begging some drunk in a bar
not to play that painful song on the jukebox.
The air rang with applause.
As Debbie Boon, I told the love of my life
how he lit up my life.
There was more applause.
I stepped into Paul Simon’s shoes,
longing to be a sparrow, not a snail.
The crowd was on its feet.
I bowed, took my leave.