April Bernard

Paean for the Players
October 19, 2015 Bernard April

Paean for the Players


The pale actor’s mouth

opens oddly, an envelope

filled with ink, no teeth.

The effect seems apt

for the tormented Prince

who gouts words

onto the thick cream

paper of the air; we

see down the well

of words a terrible pink

tongue, the mortal man

in pieces predicting final



Once briefly a player

myself I made the headlong

dash one must

against the words, against

death that would stay us.

When actors speak and move

we all become more

real, guising our best

versions of that

tenderness, ire, lust,

sad gaiety, as two fingers

pluck and ruffle and

unbutton a sleeve.


April Bernard’s most recent collection of poems is Brawl & Jag. She also writes fiction and essays, and teaches in the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars and at Skidmore College.