I signed a one-year lease fifteen years ago, / but 3,497 auditions later, I’m still here.

Photo by Benoit Debaix / Unsplash

by M.R. Mandell

Shaken awake by Axl Rose shrilling
“Sweet Child of Mine,” compliments

of Neighbor Jack, son of a 70s TV cop
destined for suicide or fame.

I thumb Variety, scoping out casting
and careers, as Vivian, the hand model living

next door, Vogues past my window, still
coked up from last night’s Viper Room rave.

I signed a one-year lease fifteen years ago,
but 3,497 auditions later, I’m still here.

Hollywood didn’t answer my wishes, no god
like producer answered my prayers, but I

cannot break-up with forty years of dreams.
So, I spring to my phone, pick-up

spam calls, with sugary sweet hellos
(you just never know). I avocado

my pores to fight off lines, save for Botox
to plug valleys and holes. I speed to Nordy’s

for last minute suits, required by IBM
commercial audition roles.

I sprint past Starbucks, resist five-dollar lattes.
I bawl in acting class three times a week,

vomit childhood stories in front of twenty
fellow hopefuls, bow to their claps

when the teacher sings Scene, I kiss
their cheeks as we say goodbye,

float to my ’99 Rabbit, with an ingenue’s
red carpet sway. I rush through the alley,

the only parking spot left at midnight,
fluster in the dark as I unlock my door.

I plunge into bed, to do it all again.
My home is Hollywood, stardom

a million miles away.

M.R. Mandell (she/her) is a poet and photographer based in Los Angeles. A transplant from Katy, Texas, she now lives by the beach with her muse, a Golden Retriever named Chester Blue (at her feet), and her longtime partner (by her side). You can find her work in Boats Against the Current, The Final Girl Bulletin Board, Dorothy Parker’s Ashes, JAKE, Roi Fainéant, sage cigarettes, Anti-Heroin Chic, Stanchion Zine, Fine Print, unstamatic, Drunk Monkeys, Olney, and others. Forthcoming: Five Minute Lit, Writers Resist, The Cherita and Drunk Monkeys.