Dream Lovers


At first an athlete in his father’s image,

Next a lawyer on his father’s trail,

Then a priest after his father’s shadow,

Along the way secretly a teenage actor

In search of his mother’s youthful dreams.

Imitative lives, a host of masks, applause.


For what?  Applause for what?

For a jump shot from the top

Of the key, a closing argument

In defense of false innocence,

The forgiveness of fabricated sins?

Why would an actor want the part?


Why would the boy want the actress?

Though he dreamed of you, Alexandra,

You too were not who you seemed,

Not Sandra Dee, not a happy-go-lucky

Pony-tailed blond nymph on the beach.

You were a devastated soul on display.


Yet at fifteen he stole your photograph

From the Bainbridge Theatre in the Bronx,

An image that took him far away

From where life had set him down

Between parents lost in a war

They didn’t start but didn’t stop.


What was he to do, Sandy,

Wandering through this terrible maze

From which he could find no exit?

In your white Gidget bathing suit

You seemed like a way out to him

An innocent beauty to his secret shame.


What he was guilty of,  he didn’t know,

Only that he must serve time

For the crime of false appearances,

The guilt of wanting to become

Not who he was, but one who must,

Through pleasing fictions, save them.


The truth of his desire had to be hidden.

So your photo, that shadow of a shadow,

He hid beneath his mattress,

While unknown to him, shortly before,

Your step-father hid you beneath his body,

Your mother a silent passive accomplice.


This he learned only years later

When you emerged from hiding, a bruised

And anorectic middle-aged ex-alcoholic.

Your photo again, this time staring

From the cover of People Magazine,

Your dark sad story laid out within.


And the coincidences at the time:

Your birthday the same as his mother’s,

Herself a thwarted aging actress living

In hated Bayonne, your New Jersey birthplace.

His daughter, a fifteen year old blonde actress

Playing Sandy in “Grease,” Sandy playing Sandra.


Surfaces, of course, weird yet telling.

Your name not really your name,

Your face a face to face the world

To say, Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee,

When in truth you were an actress

Playing a part in an amnesiac’s dream.


So too the boy slowly lost his way

As he disappeared down a hall of mirrors,

Trying to remember to forget something.

Imitative lives, a host of masks, applause.

All in the service of a terrifying fear

Of being no one but the boy he was.


Yet nothing prepared him for the shock

Of the mirror image you were for him,

A lover, a sister, a soul mated to vague pain,

Springing from a childhood wound.

Your face the face of a hidden poet

Addressing the world for the first time.


Look, the mirrors are all broken.