“That Guy”

If I come back to earth as a movie star,
I want to be that guy nobody knows.
You know who I mean, don’t you?

As a young man, he gets slapped around by Bogie
in The Maltese Falcon.
He’s Sidney Longstreet’s punk and foil.
He’s got a pug nose and he makes you
want to rub him out.

In Shane, he’s the sheepherder
who goes face-to-ugly-face with Jack Palance.
Palance plugs him, and his stupid little body
jerks in the muddy street.
You can’t even feel sorry for him–
he’s such a dolt!

Years later, he turns up in a Vincent Price
low-budget horror movie
and you can’t wait until the little dweeb
gets his spine ripped out
by the monster.

He’s in a couple of hundred other movies
that no one remembers.
(The Film Preservation Society refuses to preserve them!)

I want to be that guy because
he is the greatest actor who ever lived–
the anonymous Everyman taking the hard knocks
for all of us,
the guy who makes the hero look good,
the heroine look smart for turning him down.

He’s the first to get killed in the war
and the guy nobody misses.
(One slack-eyed G.I., longing for Betty Grable,
looks at another and says,
“Did anybody pull his tags?”
And the other one shrugs and says, “Whose?”)

I’d like to come back and be that guy
because then I would know in my human skin
what it means to be lost and ordinary–
like a hungry kid anywhere without a name–,
or to fall down bloody in a muddy street
while the slick gunfighter laughs
and we all laugh in the dark.

Gary Corseri has published/posted poems, articles and stories at Dissident Voice, The Greanville Post, Uncommon Thought Journal, CounterPunch, Countercurrents, Transcend Media Service, Veterans News Now, The New York Times, Village Voice, Redbook Magazine, Common Dreams, and hundreds of other worldwide venues. His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he published novels, poetry collections, and a literary anthology (edited), Manifestations. He has taught in US and Japanese universities and in US prisons and public schools. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Gary can be reached at gary_corseri@comcast.net. Read other articles by Gary.