July 20, 2009

Curtain Call

For Bill Forbes 1959 to 2009

By Joy Snihur Wyatt Laking


Last night,

(Which for him was truly his last night),

We saw him on stage

Playing a rough, lazy, red-neck hick.

Playing him so convincingly,

We also saw his angst and foibles.

We saw his love of family.

We recognized our local characters,

But not ourselves.

Definitely not ourselves.


In today’s paper, the play’s director,

Writing about his sudden death,

Described him as very steady,

An unassuming guy;

Kind, gentle and friendly.

Is this the roll of an artist

To live all lives?

To explore what it feels

To be a womanizing lout,

While being respectful and reliable?


This was not a life cut short

By accident of crime.

Not even a life cut short 

By natural causes.

This was life cut 

By death at fifty.

Fifty is a reasonable age,

If any age is reasonable.

It’s the babies and twenty year olds,

Both on the cusp of life,

That we mourn.


This world still has countries

Where death at thirty-five is common,

And where artists do not

Write or paint or perform

Because they are

Labouring in fields,

Or languishing in prisons.


It is because I am fifty-nine

And also an artist,

That I feel his death keenly?

Or is it because

My life too may be cut,

Will be cut, by death,

Hopefully not this year.

Perhaps not next year,

With luck maybe not

For thirty-seven years.


But definitely, at some point,

Unplanned and inconvenient,

Or planned and convenient,

My death will come

And my artist’s voice will end.

Until it does,

What do I have to say?

What do I have to lament or celebrate?