stage fright

on stage:
flawless cosmetics and
a costume carefully curated.
it all needs to make a
statement,
you know.

off stage:
fans step in,
killing you with kindness.
they haven’t a
harsh word to say,
ever.
(they seem to be
overly in awe)

and the litany
of compliments picks up.
gathers speed, creates
a chaotic, swirling maelstrom.
they think they are
doing good by you.

(makeup smudged and streaked;
costume faded, ragged)

the performances become
a chore.
inhabiting the role is
arduous, a longer process –
you can’t connect.
(every day, on stage,
you’re running on empty)

one day, apathy takes over.
you quit, quietly, and
everyone wonders why.

(you don’t tell them it was
because of them)

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