Pat Jones

The Scottish Play

by Chris O’Carroll

“Good luck,” according to backstage tradition,
Would bring us bad luck. What we say instead
Is “break a leg.” Still graver superstition
Attends the tragedy we love to dread.
We swap tales of a curse that haunts the play,
Of casts bewitched with broken legs and worse.
Rehearsing other shows, we never say
Lines from that one. Our fear, in a perverse
Amalgam with our pride, says we’re so good
At being so bad, we might brew up real charms,
Might rouse powers able, like some upstart wood,
To move against us, wreaking untold harms.
We’d hold the mirror up to hell and death
If we but spoke the play’s name, so we don’t.

Chris O’Carroll has not yet appeared in the Scottish play, but has been fortunate enough to act in a number of other Shakespeare plays, including a touring production of Romeo and Juliet funded by the National Endowment for the Arts through its Shakespeare in American Communities program. His poems have appeared in The Barefoot Muse, Measure, The Raintown Review, The Spectator, Tilt-a-Whirl, and other print and online journals.