Signing the Declaration


 
At the end of the play,
you hear your name
and as you rise,
the bell chimes.
 
You take the quill
and pretend to write your name
and then stand in a corner
as more names are called
and the bell chimes
 
louder.

 

1776 was my introduction to community theatre. The director, Sally Parry, needed 26 men and tried to recruit almost every male in the English Department. I was the only one, other than her husband, who bit. I played the representative from New Hampshire, Josiah Barlett (yes that Josiah Bartlett, West Wing fans).

It was my first time singing in public; I was terrified.

Earlier in the nineties, I had been doing a good deal of programming, mostly using Apple’s long lamented HyperCard a pre-web standalone hypertext program. I had also become fascinated by how you could create poetry in the interfaces of software. After the run of 1776, I wrote this poem as a tiny standalone app that contained only a title, my headshot from the show, and a drop down menu. Each fly out menu item contained a stanza of the poem. The last line triggering a wav file of my favorite line from the play: “New Hampshire says, ‘Yea.'” HyperCard is long gone, and I am not convinced that existing at the edges of interface did anything for the aesthetics of this poem, but I still like it.