William Baer: "The Stand-In"




Sometimes I get absorbed in the leading role,

the public persona that all the others see,

but, mostly, deep in my divided soul,

I’m just a stand-in for whom I’m supposed to be.

But like a good stand-in, I’m right on cue,

I’m always ready, and I always try to please,

I never embellish or add anything new,

and I always try to put the cast at ease.

But unlike other stand-ins, I’m satisfied

and never really covet the leading role,

besides, I know it’s not for me to decide,

he’s he, I’m me, and it’s out of my control.

But, sometimes, I wonder what the others see

and wonder if he’s just standing-in for me.


William Baer, a recent Guggenheim fellow, is the author of twenty books, including five collections of poetry, most recently Bocage and Other Sonnets (recipient of the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize).  His other books include Luís de Camões: Selected Sonnets; Psalter; and The Unfortunates (recipient of the T.S. Eliot Award).  A former Fulbright Fellow (Portugal) and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, his next book of poems is forthcoming in February 2016.