Conrad Aiken

The Apollo Trio

From acting profile parts in the "legit,"
He came to this; and he is sick of it.
The singing part is easy. What he hates
Is traveling with these damned degenerates,
Tight-trousered, scented, both with women's hips,
With penciled eyes, and lean vermilioned lips.
Loving each other so, they pick on him,--
Horse him, off stage and on. He smiles, is grim,
Plays up the part, saving his final card
Till Jones should dare to slap his face too hard.
But what's "too hard"?--Meanwhile, four times a day
He drinks, to make things pleasanter; while they
(Those damned degenerates) eat up cocaine.
The call-boy calls him on. And once again
With a crushed hat, long hair, and powdered face,
Dressed as the villain, in black, he booms deep bass,
Asks the fool question, takes the slap, and sings
As if he did for the first time all those things.
My God, how tired he is of hearing Jones,
Simpering sweetly in falsetto tones,
"Chase me, boys, I issue trading-stamps:"
Tired of grease-paint, dirty clothes, and lamps.
At ease on sawdust floors, he leans and drinks,
Swapping old stories with the crowd; or thinks,
Roving a blear green eye about the bar,
Of the girl he loved, or the one time he was star.