The recent tragic death of Robin Williams was quite shocking to me. I found myself thinking these thoughts over and over again until I finally put them down. I needed to get this block out from my other work. While there are countless deaths happening in the world through war, genocide, and terror it is sometimes unclear why the death of someone unassociated with these things can get so much more attention. The truth of the matter is about visibility. Robin Williams was seen the world over in movies, television, posters for such things, on stage, in comedy clubs, and heard on the radio. He entertained troops in Iraq during the thickest fighting. He was a lonesome child growing up. The clip below from Mork and Mindy: Mork meets Robin Williams (Season 3, Episode 10). In his Inside the Actor’s Studio interview, he discussed how this clip was him talking about the real him. So, here’s a poem I wrote about the man’s death. I’m sure Robert Pinsky could do better.
The flashing smile and quickest wit
Do not always save the day.
It becomes not important to stay fit,
To care, to dress, or want to stay.
Lightning jokes and deadpan humor
Are both felt as highs and low.
It’s hard to fathom the pain to cure
(Or think to cure) with drugs like blow.
An actor becomes what he invents,
He builds the mask that others see.
Within camouflaged environments,
“Disappearing into me.”
The tall thin walls created by
The character masks- the actor wears,
It’s not enough to love his work
You have to love them and make it theirs.
Those walls can crumble, fall and crack.
They can bury the builder in too high.
The blackness hides the dark path back,
They redraw into the self-hate lie-
That they’re not worth the life they live,
And that nothing has an impact.
They think there is nothing to give,
That life, itself, is just an act.
To choose the ending of their own play,
Is not how story structure works.
The characters really have no say,
Of the ending of them that darkly lurks.
It is the actor and creator and the muse-
The inventor of these masks galore,
Finding simply nothing of use,
In all himself to live some more.
There is no time travel, no magic left-
To say “Don’t do it,” or simply “Stop.”
It feels like murder, like petty theft.
The whole world’s heart fell down “plop.”
The creative spark and touch you made…
I wish you’d fought…I wish you’d stayed.