ONE STAR TOO MANY by Mark Barkawitz

sitting comfortably in
a tubful of steamy water,
sipping a cold beer,
i read my former teacher gerald
locklin’s little red chapbook,

the iceburg theory & other poems.
halfway through, i come across
the poem, “sedation time.”
gerry is having trouble falling
asleep in his hotel room,

so he checks the tv
guide for a movie
“to relax in front of.”
he considers a noir classic
and a supernatural thriller,

but isn’t sold on either.
“his final option is entitled ‘zipperface.’
one star.  he doesn’t read the description.
just reaches for the sleeping pills.”
now to most readers,

this is probably just a funny punchline.
but i’m spraying beer out my nose
because i helped write that piece-of-crap movie!
specifically, i was the fourth of six writers,
and can’t believe it was ever released,

even if only on some obscure cable channel.
it had been my first writing job after college.
five grand for a complete rewrite.
the producer condemned my draft
as “dyke bullshit” for its strong female protagonist.

two writers and multiple drafts later,
the producer had his bondage/slasher script.
the best things i can say about the movie
are that i got paid and had the foresight

to have my name removed from the credits.
because you never know
when some former teacher
you still hope to impress
will run out of prescription drugs.

One Response to “ONE STAR TOO MANY by Mark Barkawitz”

  1. Mark Barkawitz has earned local & national awards for his poetry, fiction, essay, & screenwriting. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary anthologies, & ‘zines. He wrote the screenplay for the feature film, “Turn of the Blade” (NorthStar Ent., ’95), has taught creative writing courses at the community college level, & coaches a championship track team of student/athletes.

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