January 8, 2012
Mario Lopez is standing outside
the Ed Sullivan theater
at one o’clock on Friday.
He’s filming some segment
for Extra or Access Hollywood
or some other show like that.
Mario Lopez is surrounded by women:
there are women standing behind him
as part of the background shot
and then over on the street
many more women congregate
to watch Mario Lopez do his thing,
to appreciate his dimples, his pectorals,
his abs, his power, his fame, some
men are there too but mostly women.
At the therapist’s office I sit on the couch and say,
“I would like to be the Mario Lopez
“What does that mean?” he asks.
“It means I would like to be surrounded
by women wherever I go,” I explain,
“I want women following me
to the grocery store, to the dry cleaners,
to the library, on the subway,
everywhere I want women wanting me.”
“That doesn’t have much to do with poetry,”
observes the therapist,
“sounds to me like you want to be loved.”
“Yeah yeah,” I say, and so the session begins,
we talk of desire, parental neglect,
conditional affection, while downstairs
in the pet store the hamster runs on its wheel,
He runs and runs and runs, chasing after
some unattainable goal, until at last
he’s wiped out and, still breathing heavily,
sits on the side of his cage, nibbles a carrot,
feels a little bit lighter and more free.
So too does the therapy help me:
at the end of my forty-five minutes,
dashing o’er hurdles of anxiety
and besting the marathon of self-doubt,
I feel – for a moment! – content
to seek love not from strangers, but within.
Walking back to work, I cannot believe that
Mario Lopez is still outside
the Ed Sullivan theater!
How long does it take to film a segment?!
He’s still surrounded by women,
but now he’s starting to sweat –
flubs another line, curses quietly.
“Let’s do it again,” says the director.
The women cluster closer. Lopez squirms.
He looks about as happy as I look
when I am filing papers at my desk,
which is to say, it’s a job.
Suddenly I feel great pity
for Mario Lopez: dimpled Adonis,
Latin demigod whom no bell can save
from the endless weight of the world’s
too-too-much idolatry. Strange duality;
how wonderful and hard his life must be.
How lucky I feel to be so free
and utterly unknown,
writing poems that are not poems,
stopping into the supermarket
on my way back to work,
observed by absolutely no one,
purchasing a perfectly ripe plum,
crunching into the purple-red skin,
letting the juice run happily down my chin.
Josh Lefkowitz is the writer/performer of two autobiographical monologues – Help Wanted and Now What? – which he has performed in New York, Washington DC, Baltimore, New Haven, Ann Arbor, Chicago, and elsewhere. His poems and essays have been published in The Rumpus, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, Conduit, Open Letters Monthly, and then some other places, too. He’s recorded work for NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC’s Americana. Josh won a Hopwood Award for Poetry at the University of Michigan. He lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and is currently writing a lot of poems.