Black Box


When theater-ace Terry trooped down that staircase
into the bowels of the Theater Building,
on the fringes of North Halls, I noticed
he (it seemed) felt nothing. For me, it was like
a plunge into empty nothingness, some
infernal realm of inversions; several
times I almost fainted. The Black Box
theater space was always mobbed on
those Thursday nights, not far from
midnight, where Terry reigned as secret
Outlaw Playwrights king— officious, daring,
beneficent or malign, as the mood took him;
& as Justine Caskey traipsed past me in the line,
vulpine teeth glistening in the fluorescence—

Justine, who we referred to as "Caesar Girl"
around North Halls, for making Caesar Salads
for herself daffily in the dining commons.
I spent an uncomfortable few months obsessed
with Ms. Caskey, whose eyes stretched
lugubriously across a pinched, cadaverous
face. Was she a witch? Did she worship Satan?
Did she know who I was? Yet here, Terry
didn't think she could act, & that was all that
mattered. As I did my apprenticeship, Terry
decided I couldn't act but write. I began to
spew out one-acts, working my way assiduously
up the ladder to him. A dispensation of God-
like power— to see my work staged— was at hand.