Green lights and smoke bathe the dimly lit stage.
VIRGIL crawls downstage. They are without gender.
VIRGIL wears a torn tuxedo shirt with a vest over and black breeches. They are barefoot.
VIRGIL looks up at the sky, then down to the earth. Rolls around a bit.
Here rise to life again, dead poetry!
Let it, O holy Muses, for I am yours,
And here Calliope, strike a higher key,
Accompanying my song with that sweet air
which made the wretched Magpies feel a blow
that turned all hope of pardon to despair.
CALLIOPE enters in Kardashian-like splendor, wearing sunglasses and checking her glittery cell phone.
CALLIOPE: Virgil, what is it babe, I’m like totally swamped ATM.
VIRGIL: Oh, wonderful muse–
CALLIOPE: I don’t have time for the niceties, Virgil. What do you need?
VIRGIL: (embarrassed) I need to take a picture for my online dating profile and I was hoping you could help me.
CALLIOPE: Oooh, fun! Lots more fun than giving poets inspiration. Gawd, that can be soooo boring. (beat) Now, what site are you planning on signing up for?
VIRGIL: Alright Eros?
CALLIOPE: Oh my goddess. No. No-no-no-no-no. Listen to me, Virgil. You are better than Alright Eros, ok? You are classier than that. You deserve better. (beat) Have you been practicing the affirmations that I gave you?
CALLIOPE: Virgil! How many times do we have to go through this? If you can’t love yourself, how the Hades are you going to love someone else. RuPaul said that and RuPaul is one of the most divine mortal beings in existence.
VIRGIL: Just help me take the photograph, would you, Calliope?
CALLIOPE: K. (She lifts her phone into horizontal camera position.) Ready?
VIRGIL smiles a timid smile.
CALLIOPE: Are you serious right now?
VIRGIL: Am I doing something wrong?
CALLIOPE: You need to look away, like over your shoulder, like you’re talking to someone and you’re slightly concerned.
VIRGIL looks confused.
CALLIOPE: You have to brood. You’re going to get a better response if you’re brooding in your photo.
VIRGIL: But I don’t brood. I never brood. I’m a straightforward, no-nonsense–
CALLIOPE: Virgil, this is your problem–you believe too much in the good in people. People are literally judging a book by it’s cover when they’re on these sites. Studies have shown that a brooding photo does better than a straight on shoot. You have to show an air of mystery.
VIRGIL. Alright. As long as there is empirical evidence…
CALLIOPE: Uh-huh, lots of it.
VIRGIL attempts to brood.
CALLIOPE goes to him and silently makes adjustments to VIRGIL’S face and posture. When she’s satisfied, she goes back to take the picture.
VIRGIL: I feel ridiculous.
CALLIOPE: Do you want my help or not?
CALLIOPE takes several photos.
CALLIOPE: And, send. Ok, there you go, you have a bunch of good ones to pick from.
VIRGIL: Thank you.
CALLIOPE: What are you going to write in your profile?
VIRGIL: I’m going to be forthright: Normal poet seeks pleasant companion–
CALLIOPE: Ugh. Vomit. Stop. Give me your phone.
CALLIOPE: GIVE IT!
VIRGIL does so.
CALLIOPE: Ok. (typing) Adventurous spirit will take you to Hell and back again.
VIRGIL: Oh, my.
CALLIOPE: Turn ons: rock climbing, reading poetry in bed and Fireball Whiskey.
CALLIOPE: Turn offs: Indecision, vegans and purgatory.
VIRGIL: Well, that is true.
CALLIOPE: Message me if you want have me right an erotic love poem about you. (beat) That’s a good start.
She hands back the phone.
VIRGIL: (Uncertain) Thank you.
CALLIOPE: I have got to bounce. Virgil, make sure you text me if you have any questions. Send me a screenshot of a conversation if you get flustered, ok? And make sure you actually go out and meet these people! Limit any conversation to six messages before you offer a specific time and place to meet. And always start with coffee–always! Don’t waste time and money on dinner and drinks before you know there’s a spark.
VIRGIL: Again, thank you. What would I ever do without you?
CALLIOPE: It’s my job to make poetry happen, whether it’s in the world our under the sheets. Love you, babe! (She exits.)
VIRGIL starts to crawl back into the smoke.
VIRGIL: Six times before a specific place….I love and accept myself. I love and accept myself. I love and accept myself.
End of play.