Almost Famous

To be respected by your family,
those you like and know,
is often not enough acclaim
to satisfy; and so
we seek to become famous
in this lifetime or the next,
a bigger fish than all the rest
and so command respect.

As the sphere of your influence
expands, you gain some perks:
you get your way more often
and can boss around more jerks,
perhaps a bigger house or car,
more money in the bank,
a longer list of so-called friends
who think you owe them thanks.

From strangers, you gain envy;
from criminals, their lust;
and at some point, the tiny circle
that you know and trust
continues to diminish, until
they grow tired and leave,
exhausted from competing
with the users you believe
would be there if your fortunes
were one morning found reversed,
who only stroke your ego
as a way to line their purse.

I wanted to be famous once.
I thought it would be great
to live as if my word was law,
to die and lay in state
while mourners passed through teary-eyed,
my name upon their lips:
the mind, the face that changed the world,
that launched a thousand ships.

But now, I wonder at the point
of seeking such applause;
and seek instead a smaller crowd
of friends and kin, because
the bottom line is this, you know:
you get what we call fame
when people you don’t know or like
pretend to know your name.

30 APR 2006

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