Ice Cream Man, Blue Balls, and The Funny Thing

promo pic

If you read this blog, you know that I mainly use it to promote writing that’s excluded from the canon, but that I find beautiful or powerful or otherwise remarkable. I don’t usually use this blog for self-promotion, but a play of mine, “Ice Cream Man, Blue Balls, and The Funny Thing”, is opening in New York next week and if you like this blog, you might like the play. It’s a wide-ranging play that explores some heavy topics — racial violence, discomfort with disability, the banality of romance — and still manages to be funny. If you’re in New York, you should come check it out! You can get tickets and more information here.

If you come see it, you’ll get to hear this monologue at the opening of the third act, which is a sort of deconstruction of the romantic comedy form. And if you can’t make it, I hope you enjoy the monologue anyway:

What’s that thing Tolstoy said about happy families? They’re all the same? I don’t believe that for a minute. Actually, I don’t believe that happy families even exist, but if they do, they’re probably weird and interesting and all different from each other. What’s all the same is heartbreak. What’s all the same is that hollowed out, empty feeling you get when you’re left alone. It’s always the same, every time, and probably everyone who’s experienced it has experienced it the same way, forever.

The funny thing is I already know how this’ll go. I’ll be depressed for a while and then I won’t. And then I’ll start to forget and, soon enough, I’ll be on to the next thing, but I’m not ready for that yet. I wish I was. I wish I could just let go, but it’s a compulsion. Clinging to things.

A Plague of Starlings, by Robert Hayden

I first read Robert Hayden in a strange and wonderful anthology of mystical poetry that contains his beautiful poem “Night-Blooming Cereus.” Soon thereafter, I bought his Collected Poems and fell in love with the poem “A Plague of Starlings,” which remains one of my favorites.

This may seem like mere shameless self-promotion, but my play, “Ice Cream Man,” is returning to the stage next month in Long Island City, Queens. It contains one long monologue and the monologue was inspired by “A Plague of Starlings.” If you come see the play, I’d love to know if you can find Hayden’s poem in it:

A PLAGUE OF STARLINGS
(Fisk Campus)

Evenings I hear
the workmen fire
into the stiff
magnolia leaves,
routing the starlings
gathered noisy and
befouling there.

Their scissoring
terror like glass
coins spilling breaking
the birds explode
into mica sky
raggedly fall
to ground rigid
in clench of cold.

The spared return,
when the guns are through,
to the spoiled trees
like choiceless poor
to a dangerous
dwelling place,
chitter and quarrel
in the piercing dark
above the killed.

Mornings, I pick
my way past death’s
black droppings:
on campus lawns
and streets
the troublesome
starlings
frost-salted lie,
troublesome still.

And if not careful
I shall tread
upon carcasses
carcasses when I
go mornings now
to lecture on
what Socrates,
the hemlock hour nigh,
told sorrowing
Phaedo and the rest
about the migratory
habits of the soul.

Come See a Minor Play this Week!

This week, a play of mine is opening in New York. It’s a decidedly minor work: a one-act play by a fledgling playwright in a small, black-box theater. That said, I’m proud of it. It’s funny and powerful and it focus on some subjects that are deeply important to me: racism, violence, and nostalgia.

If you’re in the New York area and would like to see it, “Ice Cream Man” will be at Manhattan Repertory Theatre at 9:00 pm on Wednesday, April 8 and Thursday, April 9. Email mrtreserve@gmail.com and let them know which night you’d like to come. If you can’t make it but want to support a minor work in progress, you can donate by going to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ice-cream-man–3/x/10085203. Donate in the next 24 hours and you’ll get your own personalized, minor poem: $10 for an acrostic, $25 for a haiku, $50 for a limerick, and $75 for a Shakespearean sonnet. How great an offer is that?