Christopher Stocks


Two scenes from an urban opera


It all began when they rejected the parts
They had been expected to play;
All perfectly admirable, of course,
Except that it had the strange and contradictory effect,
Not of freeing them from roles entirely,
But of turning their every moment
Into role-playing of one kind or another.

Finally, suffering from recognition exhaustion,
They sought solace in immovable objects by night:
Trees, parking meters, pediments,
Which served their purpose but never,
When it came down to it,
Drove the doubts entirely from their minds.


His life was lived like a stage
Just moments before the curtain goes up:
Everything wonderful, perfect, in its place
(Even if its place was to be out-of-place),
Waiting for the act to begin.

The audience was seated;
They were generally comfortable but,
As the curtain didn’t and didn’t rise,
They fidgeted for a while and then
Forgot about the play altogether, talking,
Some of them, to each other,

While others sloped off to the far end of the room
And took dictation or read comics,
Just like everybody else,
Until the interior of the theatre finally resembled
Exactly (though on a smaller scale and more fashionably)
The crowded streets outside
With their canoe-shaped newstands and whispering drug-peddlers,
Running down the incline to the famous sea.