I'm crouched in the back, masked by great casements of concrete filled with their pools of stagnant, recycled water. Small birds in their shadows watch me as I light the small lantern and check my plastic knife.

It seems so silly, so trivial. This great fiction that we live, this presumptuous fantasy of words and characters, all of it just so much exhaustion, so many long nights and grinding days, the stuff of ourselves just poured out. Just poured out into an imagining of a mightier self, that somehow is what I myself try so hard to be, but never am.

I could just walk away. I could just snuff out the lantern, drop my stupid little knife, and let this play just end. Only these little birds would care to notice. Every night that "WHY" question pops up, and the prospect of simply leaving slowly stirs, kicked up by the wind like so much dust in the corner of my innermost self.

I stare at the birds, who now stare at the light of my lantern. The ducks tuck their heads under their wings. Onstage below, the boxes are scraping and the voices are trailing away, meaning my cue's coming up. The trees whisper their urgent, rasping language of leaves in the wind. Lights wink out in the apartments around us.

For some time I've been wrestling with these contradictions, ploughing the rough sod of these doubts and petty disasters over and over again, driven by those great questions of intent blazing away here and elsewhere. And yes, I can say with conviction that I am, in fact, nearer to the true Othello now than I was weeks ago. Caught up in a torrent of verse, great gobs of it in my pores, in my guts, breathing and sleeping verse, verse, gripping verse.

When I write, even in mass e-mails/blogposts like this one, it's as though I were sitting here with a piece of chalk in my hand, and I'm sketching the details of my true self in the air. Just the salient features, more of a suggestion than anything else. It's an imagined truth, an imperfect ideal, something that's not quite real but made exquisitely so just by the hope of it. The hope of it is what anchors me here.

The hint of a hope is enough for me to catch my cue, stand up and step into this imagined chalk outline of myself in the air, with my lantern and my silly knife, play-acting again. The verse takes hold. It is the cause, it is the cause.

I invite each and every one of you mighty, valorous, lovely rockstars out there to come see Othello this weekend. If my castmates rocked any harder, you'd have to wear a helmet. We perform Friday the 8th and close Saturday the 9th, the conclusion of our boisterous 4-week expedition. Lovejoy Fountain, SW 3rd and Harrison, just east of PSU on the Streetcar Line. 8 pm, free, bring chairs and blankets. www.portlandactors.com. Find me out afterwards and I'll buy you a drink. Stop talking pansy, you ill-mannered Turk. Come see.

pink cadillacs and plush velvet seats,


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