Silence falls like a velvet bell,
clapperless–a rehearsal only–
but reverberant, quivering
like a kitchen table
slammed to wall, slabbed
fist, smashed
bottle, strangled ululation of
sob–till “super,”
calls the director (like a conductor turning
triumphant after the loosening
of that final orchestral knot), “just great.
Take five, guys.  No,
better make that ten.”

Lights blink (gaze after
dark) and the younger actor, the one
who still holds a cowering
balance, left hand upon center stage, half-
topples, shaking his head, “whoa man, that was
And the veteran,
because emotion can never
be old hat, reaches quickly
to his propped fedora, swiping below the brim, his forehead,
eyes, as he pulls himself across that bridge of
craft, which has supported his shape,
voice, the planned span of time and space, like borne traffic,
but where he truly reaches is
deep into the flow below that bridge, a burning artery
that runs from lungs to loins, through longing
and blood lust and
the softest murmur of the heart, this Lethe
where he loses himself
on cue.  So,
he wipes its damp
onto the back of one hand as he reaches
the other to help up his fellow player, hazarding
a smile.


Poets! Question :  I have redone the first line about twenty times–I had “Silence falls like a velvet bell,” and I’ve now gone back to it!  I had had Silence knells a velvet bell,”  then “Silence rings a velvet bell,” “silence tolls a velvet bell,” “silence clangs a velvet bell,” “silence falls like the dome of a velvet bell==”  “silence descends like the dome of velvet bell.” Any thoughts?

I am posting the above draft poem for Tess Kincaid’s Mag 123 and also (unless I have time to write something new!) for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.  Tess posts a photographic prompt; the above is my version of it.  (The image is, I believe – though wasn’t conscious of when writing – from  Orson Welle’s A Touch of Evil.  I am not a big Welles’ fan and really was thinking of any actor.)  Check our both Tess’s site and dVerse for wonderful poetry.

AND, if you have time, check out my books!  Children’s counting book 1 Mississippi -for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms.  Or, if you in the mood for something older, check out Going on Somewhere, poetry, or  Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.

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61 Comments on ““Actor””

  1. Barbara Lake Says:

    This absolutely captured me from line one -. “Silence falls like a velvet bell,” That is an awesome description. Having trod the boards many a time, I relate.

    Love it – thank you!

  2. brian miller Says:

    that is ok…theatrical is very cool…great gripper of an opening line…take ten for supper…smiles…no rest for the weary in theatre…i like how he reaches to help the other up…that says much of your character there….smiles.

  3. I really enjoyed this … and I go to see a whole lot of plays. 🙂

  4. David King Says:

    This has to be up there among your best – and higher praise is difficult to imagine. Really, most enjoyable.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Dave. I’ve cleaned it up a little this morning but not too much – (took out some “likes”). Thanks as always for your kind eye. k.

  5. Claudia Says:

    nice piece k. – like a theatre play itself… my fav is ..silence falls like a velvet bell..

  6. hedgewitch Says:

    I’m not reading any comments first so I can say–I like “Silence falls like a velvet bell” best. Phew–now all I can say about the rest of it is that it’s excellent, the cadence is superb, full of tension with a lot of images that spring out and stop/start the rhythm nicely–the ‘smokin’ phrase seems an anachronism wth the old pic, yet it also introduces that sense of a craft spanning time and generations. My favorite part is the ending stanza, which is a whole drama in itself. You and your drafts! This is a pretty polished piece imo.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Well, I’m listening to you and Claudia and Barbara Lake and going back to falls! Thanks. I agree smokin a little odd, but not changing any more right now. I call them drafts because I know just about anything I’ve done fairly quickly, unless I’m really really certain, is not done==and when I’m blogging, it’s all pretty raw. I mean, I may change things twenty times, but it’s all in a very myopic time frame. k.

      • hedgewitch Says:

        Well, the pic is only one of many(or no) illustrations you could use for this after all–I think the line itself is fine and expressive. And I too, have trouble accepting versions as final until they’ve sat and stewed awhile, then been ruthlessly rewritten as needed–not always possible when blogging fresh to a prompt. I look on the first thing I write as a sort of Cliff Notes for the barely born poem. ;_)

  7. I love theater almost (perhaps more) than I love poetry. If I’m in NY or London I will be at the theater every night if possible. (Last year an exception as I was with a friend and it’s not her first love). I know there is “acting interrupted” in films and heaven knows I love the sense of a magnified set of arts inherent in film; but acting, real acting is the ability to take on the performance first to last and incorporate a particular audience into it.

    I imagined you (lucky you) at a rehearsal (Broadway?) and seeing the arc of the craft from one who has intuitively developed the craft to his/her fingertips and the new one, the apprentice as it were learning from a master, feeling his/her way. It’s all here and the poem is compelling.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Gay. I just made it up! I’ve been to plays and rehearsals both of course, but the rehearsals have not been particularly professional ones! (Though I have a friend who sometimes takes me to the Met – but those rehearsals are extremely formal.) AT any rate, thanks, loved your poem and thank you for visit. k.

  8. I love what you did with this. Not a huge fan of Orson Welles either but, he sure could act. I like your first line just the way it is.

  9. ayala Says:

    Nice piece, Karin….silence falls like a velvet bell….love this line.

  10. Susan Says:

    Your description of the moment after for both actors has power though action, images–and only a rehearsal! I gather the silence (the best clapping of all) is in the same moment–the second before “super.” Great pun, though I couldn’t see it until I scrutinized that line for you!

  11. Jody Collins Says:

    Karin–line 1 is perfect as is….oy, can you paint a picture!
    speaking of pictures, any books in the mail for me?

  12. Helen Says:

    The first line is perfect … as the poem + the cool image!!

  13. Margaret Says:

    I usually don’t read Magpie Tales until mine is written… but his is posted at dVerse 😉 So.. I too am formulating a poem about an actor… but my mind keeps going to a young Marlon Brando. We wiill see.

    The first line is what grabbed me!! It is a keeper. Me thinks you’ve done some acting in your days – you seem intimately knowledgeable.

  14. rosemary mint Says:

    Your current first line is perfect because of its alternating sounds; it is easy to read and is pleasant to pronounce.

    I especially love this section of the poem:

    “and the younger actor, the one
    who still holds a cowering
    balance, left hand upon center stage, half-
    topples, shaking his head, “whoa man, that was
    And the veteran,
    because emotion can never
    be old hat, reaches quickly
    to his propped fedora”

  15. amivglobus Says:

    FWIW, I like either ”Silence rings a velvet bell” or “Silence tolls a velvet bell” better. “Toll” has the advantage of multiple meanings that include a fee or payment and a loss, damage, or suffering that fit well with the rest of the piece. The velvet bell is such a great image, I think “Silence falls” is weak in comparison. In any case, I love this poem.


    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks – I kind of felt that way too – so many “likes” as well, but I’ll just give it some time at this point! Thanks so much for your input. k.

  16. Zouxzoux Says:

    You take us into the theater world effortlessly. I enjoyed the visit very much!

  17. Steve King Says:

    I’ve been a stage actor since my teens–more than forty years. I love what you’ve done here to explore the not so obvious aspects of the craft. I like “falls.”. It has a sense of finality, the way that silence itself does.

    About a year ago, I posted a poem called “Actor”. Interesting to see how we took different approaches to what goes on. I enjoyed your a great deal. Nice work.

  18. The opening line is fine with me. But what I like most about our piece is the detailed character of the veteran actor, like you know how it is to be in their shoes and putting on a role from lungs to loins ~


  19. janehewey Says:

    it was fun to imagine the pic before clicking on your blog and actually seeing it. Silence falls like a velvet ball is such a strong opening. I enjoy the action in this actor piece…slammed to wall, slabbed fist, smashed bottle. then, after blood and sweat, winding so wonderfully into an exhalation of a denouement. loved this nicely crafted poem, k.

  20. Kutamun Says:

    Gday Manic, this was fun, and reminded me of the recent movie, “the artist ” , except your poem is better !

  21. beckykilsby Says:

    Love the cinematic quality of this – how apt. For your opening line.. how about:

    Silence falls, a velvet bell

  22. libithina Says:

    i know everyone has said this but that line is so rich in imagery Silence falls like a velvet bell,
    clapperless’ and is perfect springboard for the rest of this wonderful write ~ Lib

  23. I love the pacing of this poem. The energy and speed. A Great read!
    Mark Butkus

  24. I love the first line a written here…it gripped me immediately!

  25. Chazinator Says:

    This is really good. It puts right into the midst of the action, both if the scene being filmed and the after take action. The punches and physicality of the picture comes thru extremely strong, and I got bith the chi of the action and the emotions of the actors. I assumed thruout you knew itbwas Welles – a favorite of mine 🙂 – and was surprised to read you didn’t know it was he in the photo. The ending lines about craft and girth fit him perfectly. Really great read.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I’ve never been so taken with Welles, but you know I haven’t watched movies very seriously for some time. I actually find it almost too powerful a medium at times, almost unbearably so. Thanks for your kind words. k.

  26. Wow, this is top notch! I’m not a fan of these kinds of movies either but I’ll take more of your poetry any day!

  27. I do like the “clangs” line, but I think you should go with your instincts on it.

    Aside from that, love your use of dialogue in this. Works so very well.

  28. zongrik Says:

    velvet bell AND clapper-less – can’t get more quiet then that i guess. good first line.

    done for — i added a reading to this!!

  29. vivinfrance Says:

    A lovely poem. Sorry I’m late to this party, but the week I have had with 6 poets has convinced me that less is more, and to let the reader do some of the work. In that frame of mind, may I propose for the first line debate: “a velvet bell falls.” – a velvet bell IS silent, therefore no need for the word silence, and it gives you nice consonance and silences those sibilants!

  30. I thought I replied to this the first time, but apparently not?!

    For the first line, I think “Silence calls/tolls like a velvet bell” would work best. For me these words suggest a sound which we see is silence, without the emotional connotations of words like knell.

    I enjoyed the poem, thanks!

  31. K. McGee Says:

    I like the first line as it stands.

    It’s been years since I’ve been involved with any form of theater. Although a few high school plays and musicals have filled my hat with a partial working knowledge. Your poem took me back to this place, but then gave it a new mature perspective. Thank you for that!

  32. yoga-adan Says:

    i like how it stands,

    “Silence falls like a velvet bell,

    but you’re the artist 😉

    “if” i were to play with it, maybe :

    Silence vents a velvet bell,

    to go with the first line second stanza :

    “Lights blink (gaze after
    dark) …”

    best wishes, nice work 😉

  33. hypercryptical Says:

    Oh tis brilliant! Superb as is!

    Anna :o]

  34. Beth Winter Says:

    The first line that you began with and returned to is the perfect presentation for the image. I see that you wanted to add depth but the simplicity along with the hushed thud provided by the image are perfect. Love this piece.

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