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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Poem Inspired by "The Tempest"

Party Animals Don't Get Rained Out, The Tempest in Two Parts

By Justin Karcher

Part One

A summer picnic with friends

at the top of the hill

iambic drunkenness before sunset

slurring our sonnets

over plates of hummus

James making his way

through an entire bag of Bugles

hungry mosquitoes

landing on cheesy runways

we don’t mind the attention

there’s enough blood to go around

we’re ready for some Shakespeare

Prospero conjuring monsters out of thin air

Melissa’s flying to Iceland tomorrow

gray clouds everywhere

rain in the forecast

umbrellas next to boxes of wine

I wish everyone would just take their umbrellas

and stab the ground, so they stand upright

like tall flowers or statues in a cemetery

it’s definitely going to rain

I just think it’d be cool, a forest of umbrellas

something new, foliage that feasts on thunder

dogs digging holes and burying lightning bones

meanwhile, actors in trailers

are getting into their costumes

Eric’s talking about how he almost got into

a fistfight at Gene McCarthy’s

to pass the time before they cancel the show

we start scouring the program

looking for the crossword puzzle

which is usually there

no crossword puzzle though, just a word search

and, honestly, we’re all a little too hazy in the eyes

to find words that matter

then there’s the announcement

the play’s about to start

but right as the actors hit the stage

it starts to rain

then a couple more announcements

the play will be cancelled

a flooded stage, someone could get hurt

an innovative three-minute adaptation of The Tempest

perfect for millennial consumption

you get the storm (real rain!)

the ship crash, a monologue, the end

people running to their cars

Carly invites everyone to our place

to finish off the wine and never go to bed

I’ll come back next week

Part Two

One week later…

when I arrive, the VIPs are already drunk

sitting atop a mountain of Barefoot Wine

all those tiny bottles

red, white, it doesn’t matter

it’s actually quite beautiful

the way the sunset bounces off the glass

it’s the kind of light I like eating

the kind of light that shipwrecks your navy

the kind of light that creates islands out of nothing

the language of Shakespeare pairs well with deliberate drunkenness

anyway, when they’re out of cheap summertime blackouts

the VIPs climb down their shiny mountain

and make their way to the large tent

to get more booze, maybe some food

some of them circle around

the tray of Wegmans subs

like a soliloquy of vultures

talking amongst themselves

it’s all very private

but also a threat to public safety

the man nearby

his phone rings

and he doesn’t know how to answer

so he fiddles around with it for a few seconds

and when he finally figures it out

the caller is on speaker

and they loudly talk for a couple minutes

and from the sounds of it

that man’s gonna need some of Prospero’s magic

to fix his roof, he doesn’t seem to care though

it’s okay

because we’re all carefree monsters

party animals this time of the year

we know we’re trapped on an island

and maybe that island is Buffalo

maybe it’s the whole Rust Belt

maybe it’s the idea of America

maybe we’re trying to unshackle something in our lives

maybe that’s why so many people are laughing at Caliban right now

maybe he’s a mirror, they shouldn’t be laughing though

because he’s a tragic figure

maybe I’m looking at it too deeply

after all, the couple next to me

have already broken three wine glasses

they haven’t even bothered to pick up

all the pieces, so I find myself staring at the glistening

in the grass throughout the show and I wanna scream out

“Hey, pick up your sloppiness

lots of people walk around barefoot here”

but I don’t say anything

I myself am trapped on an island of lazy indifference

where most of the time, I’m looking for a little bit of magic

to shake things up— always looking all around me

for spirits tiptoeing through the air, hoping they have long hair

that they whip around like a tidal wave or tempest

and all that dandruff drifts toward us like antidepressant mosquitoes

may they suck the sad out of all of us here tonight

may they leave bites on our limbs that are more like doorways

and when we look down to see what itches

whole new worlds open before our very eyes

it’s dark now, still the sound of bug spray all around me

a symphony of not wanting to be touched by the world around you

I wanna scream out, “Let the world bite you, it’s a beautiful night”

because isn’t that what the play is all about?

having that itch, wanting that itch

but learning how not to be an asshole about it

encourage everyone to fight for their freedom

encourage everyone to let love sweep them off their feet

don’t let shipwrecks define who you are

but don’t ignore that you’re broken either

the play is over, now the applause


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