My Life as Orson Welles
My father invented the automobile.
My mother was a beautiful cross-eyed pianist.
Because show-biz talent evaded my brother Dickie,
He spent most his life in the nut house.
I, deemed the boy genius at eighteen
Months, played piano, violin, and learned magic
Tricks from the Vaudevillians by the time I was four.
By six, I was in opera, theater, and concerts
In Chicago, where my mother died of jaundice.
After father took custody, he died too,
Only of the bottle-tipping disease.
I inherited his money, traveled to Madrid
Where the bulls and I chased Ernie Hemingway.
I was 19 playing the role of Tybalt on Broadway
By day, and fighting crime as The Shadow by night.
Bored out of my wits, I had the nation believing Martians
Were invading Jersey. I was only 23
And already a household name.
Two years later, I went up against Billy the Tycoon,
A man who believed a man couldn’t be crushed
By the motion picture, and in the process
I had directed the greatest film America ever saw
Or will ever be made. But I was crushed, too.
Worse than Judas being banished from heaven,
I was blacklisted from Hollywood.
All creative control lost, my contracts terminated.
My second marriage was to Rita Hayworth,
And I divorced her when she got too fat.
Despite 900 Golden Globe nominations and one Oscar,
Despite all the Lifetime Achievement awards
For over 15,000 films I appeared in,
I became Hollywood’s most celebrated Has-been
Doing Farmer John TV ads where I promised to “sell no
Swine before its time,” performed magic tricks
On talk shows, like a child paraded for his talents.
I would be the first to tell you I started at the top
And worked my way to the bottom. Reaganomics at its best.
I steadily grew obese. Reaching 500 pounds,
What surprise my heart didn’t give out earlier than 70?
In L.A., I once ate 18 hot dogs at Pinky’s in one sitting.
Call it destiny, but I call it prophecy of the after-life
That for my last screen appearance — Transformers: The Movie —
I played the voice of Unicron: a monster who devoured planets.
John Olivares Espinoza