Volume III (Summer 2008)
ISSN 1934-4324

Richard Fein

Richard Fein lives in New York.



The diamond needle skipped a lot, but we were still on track.
The school gym was sectioned by basketball foul lines,
that none of us yet dared to cross.
But the game was played by boys on one side,
with ill-knotted ties and breaking voices that hardly spoke,
while on the other side were chattering girls,
who were already dancing,
for they were allowed to pair off and hold each other.
Johnny Mathis was the vinyl troubadour.
And we boys were pages, mere yet-to-be knights.
But one of us had to venture across the foul line.
Kathy, with red hair and no pimples,
never looked at me.
Barbara with brown hair glanced at me when I pretended not to look.
Red-haired Kathy was every future knight’s holy grail, and she knew it.
I stuck my tongue out at her;
after all, she never looked at me.
Barbara, lady of the brown hair, giggled then grinned at me.
My first dance loomed.
My first dance with someone other than
my sister, cousin, or mom.
I dreaded Barbara, for her smile meant yes.


I’m not an actor reciting other people’s words.
My lines are my own, and my character is not learned by rote.
There are no footlights to blind me to the audience.
No director prompts me to display more feelings or less,
and every one of my ers or ahs is unrehearsed.
I’m not paid to play another’s life;
my fee is that I play myself.
Like the Marx Brothers I’ve thrown the prepared script away
and just ad lib.
I needn’t thumb through the morning paper to read my review,
for I concoct my own notice even if no one notices me.
My performance is always Tony award caliber,
even if in certain scenes I cast myself as an extra.
And when I give my acceptance speech,
I’ll thank my mom and dad and all you lovely people,
even the waiter at the corner greasy spoon,
who gives me free extra coffee each morning
though it’s part of the breakfast special.
And if he ever asks, I’ll give him my autograph
on something other than a credit card receipt.