On the Set of a Minor Motion Picture
by J. J. Steinfeld

I’ve seen too many movies
in my uneventful life,
the movie-star handsome man
at the bar said to the bartender,
his words three-whiskies loud
his smile threatening
to consume his face
like special-effects
in a not-so-subtle
horror movie.

A woman three bar stools away
having already had three husbands
who weren’t half as handsome
as the befuddled barroom actor
said she prefers plays to films
unless they’re foreign films
for which she has
an almost erotic weakness
pronouncing the word erotic
the way Marlene Dietrich might have
in The Blue Angel.

What the hell’s the difference between a movie and a film?
asks an argumentative man sitting at the end of the bar
who looks like four or five of Lon Chaney’s
thousand movie or film faces mixed together
and sounds like a character played by Boris Karloff.

Then a couple enter
sunglasses and prettiness
and studied self-importance
and the bartender
and the movie-star handsome man
and the thrice-divorced woman
and the argumentative drinker
all at the same moment realize
that real honest-to-goodness movie stars
have entered the bar and their lives
but they all guess different names
even though one of the entering actors
had been in four scandals in the last two years
and if any of them had just kept their eyes open
in the tabloid-emblazoned grocery check-out line
he or she would have guessed correctly.