by Neil Chopra

The style of this poem is inspired by Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”.

A pipeline set to fulfill a market
With standard faces to replace the last;
To try to tiptoe around the carpet
Enrages cliques wanting to block the pass.

Carpet unrolled so each step will be soft
For vengeful whispers ringing far and wide;
Concrete for those whose names remain forgot,
Their screams to be suppressed and locked inside.

Exclusive membership solidifies
New connections lifting a shallow chance;
Hazing assured, one’s worth does not suffice,
Must perform for them one more song and dance.

A royal stamp finds power through the crown,
However it stumbled onto the head;
Papers to sign with obsequious bows,
Then quickly forgotten once joined with the dead.

Bannered name asks for a premium price,
Uncredited words wrapped in silken bow;
When silenced author’s voice begins to rise,
Value suddenly drops to depths below.

Notoriety used to prowl the streets
And pick from lambs at the mercy of pleasure;
Throw them away once they’ve satisfied needs
And start the hunt for another one better.

A powerful hand tapping the shoulder
Can cause scruples to fall by the wayside;
Rigid ice becomes puddled when cornered,
Sins accepted as soon as they taste right.

A careful script for a broadcasted voice;
Poise maintained, unruly emotion checked;
Unless direction finds that panicked noise
Appeals to an audience looking for stress.

Hitched on the train you try yourself to steer,
Momentum reigns supreme on crowded tracks;
Directions murmured softly in your ear:
If final choice is brakes, they leave en masse.

Promises of grandeur, riddled with bribes,
To pierce the skin and slowly skim from veins;
When no blood is left, having been sucked dry,
Find another victim that can be tamed.

Socialize with the noted in lavish guise,
Keep the laughter going for their vapid jokes;
Soak up their drama with exhausted sighs,
Raise the glass with them every time they toast.

When work completes, run to check the score;
Leave waiting tasks for chance to celebrate;
Smiles brightened when given due reward,
Scowls hidden when others take the cake.

A willing pose attracts an eager flash,
Though another layer peels from the soul;
Looking for lights to no end distracts
A mind from finding a valuable goal.

Closest friends are prone to lose attention
When a budding seed has not left its mark;
Their handshakes come with many questions
When other’s eyes lift it from the dark.

Public facade must be carefully kept
To leave a timid fire well kindled;
Damning information subtly swept,
Fanning flames that might otherwise dwindle.

The stage at some point must be exited,
Whether with grace or by random slip;
Either fate leaves an ego tested with
Once reaching hands fading to the mist.

Dreams of stardom missing origin’s spark
Form a vision outside your control;
Crippled you lay, not knowing where to start,
Hoping a clear path before you unfolds.

Precious minutes gifted under spotlight,
Each second drawn out and milked to the bone;
Overlook creation, replace with hype,
A recognizable face is bought and sold.

Minimum effort to satisfy craving,
Substance needn’t matter when they can be tricked;
Same old story, in a brand new casing,
Can receive enough praise to make enough sip.

Great power is found in gilded finger,
Precisely dressed by the hands of handlers;
Golden ink drips from a vacant thinker,
Their slightest twitch planned and gently pampered.

If roaring cheers receive an artist’s piece
Highlighting hidden gems, though unintended,
Others gather round the crowd like flocking geese,
Confirming they as well think the strokes are splendid.

Basking in success, with or without merit,
No praise can match your own reverence;
When others are lifted, can hardly bear it,
Quick to tear them down without eloquence.

Ruthless purchase of your expensive time,
Product’s branded image slowly bored in;
Allowing nothing else in sight to shine:
Feigned glamour should not be freely stolen.

An ordinary, forgettable face
Looks unique when other’s eyes are widened;
What before was in reach is now replaced
With a distant figure newly brightened.

If performer chooses to don a mask,
Leaving their work to fend for itself,
Fame’s scaffold, once lifting, now is collapsed:
No favorable bias left to quell.

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