Daniel Galef


Why, I Auteur . . .

(by a recent writer-actor-director of a short play)

The director rules with an iron fist,
A mill to which all fellow men are grist,
Sovereign on set, with a might imperial,
His habits crude (indeed, venereal).
His adherence to vision is staunchly commendable,
But the script—and the actors—and audience—expendable.
He’s horn-mad, brash, and overamorous . . .
But he usually stays behind the camorous.

The player’s a peculiar beast,
A bore, at best; a whore, at least,
Who struts and frets, and girns, and mawks,
And talks, and talks, and talks, and talks
To choke the air with well-worn words
Dropped from the maw like verbal turds,
Pompous, proud, and pigeon-breasted,
Lest his braying might be bested.

The writer peddles piddling prose
In petty playscript, then he goes,
Accustomed to directors slighting
His weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable writing.
He aims at art, but art’s a bitch;
He lands at crass, or camp, or kitsch—
(And justly earns the critic’s slap
When he aims for crass, but lands at crap).

But one out-stinks these all by far—
From the trailer of the movie star
To the opera’s vaulted aeries
You can be quite sure that there is
No baser breed of malefactor:
The ass who can’t direct or act or
Write, cries—“Holy Trinity!
I can’t do one . . . I’ll do all three!”

On the Uncertain Parentage of Invention

I built a better mousetrap.
The world heard, and came.
A mouse-less land paid tribute
In lucre and in fame,

Then faded fast that pathway
They’d beaten to my house.
I fetched my tools, and started
To build a better mouse.

Daniel Galef has been an actor, a teacher, a dictionary definition (Merriam-Webster: “interfaculty”), a door-to-door poll taker, a printer’s devil, and probably some other things he’s forgotten. Besides poems (in New York MagazineThe J Journal: New Writing on Justice, and The Christian Century), he also writes stories and plays—including The Bottomless Pit in the Back Room of Nick’s Speakeasy, now running at the Théâtre MainLine in Montreal, directed by Alissa Zilber. Personalized haiku $10. (Twitter @DanielGalef)