Fame the one drug you don’t recover from,
Since you seek no cure. In Hollywood once,
My wife and I had to change plans to see
Old friends; the sidewalks were jammed mile after
Sweaty mile of folks insane, for one glimpse
Of any star. (That night was a big night–
The world premiere of Too Many Sequels.)
And fame must shift something inside you, make
A thirst without quenching. On that same trip
We met a star manque, who took us for steaks
At a place right by Hollywood Boulevard.
This man had once been on par with Johnny,
Merv, and Groucho: one phone call always meant
The best table, no matter the hour.
Except now he was any tourist, from
Any town, and tonight’s table was right
By the can. He minded that, and the staff
Not caring, he minded more. To distract
Himself he gave us, unsought, reviews of
Current tv, music, cinema. It
All stank. Sic Transit Gloria Tonight Show.
Part of my wife feels a tender pity
For the famous, and the once famous, so
She arranged for some strangers to drop by
And be thunderstruck. ‘Are you X?!?!!! Could we
Get pictures??? How about an autograph?’
He obliged each one, carefully signing
His name to that night’s late dinner specials.
We had seen his fake smile all night; now we
Saw the real one. And the former knew not
The latter. He was a changed man now, as
If he wandered again in arcadia.
Say this for thirsts that cannot be quenched; when
There is rain in the desert, beauty blooms,
And if only briefly, then how brightly.