Krapp's Last Tape


"I realized that Joyce had gone 
as far as one could in the direction 
of knowing more, [being] in control 
of one’s material. He was always 
adding to it; you only have to look 
at his proofs to see that. I realized 
that my own way was in impoverishment, 
in lack of knowledge and in taking away, 
in subtracting rather than in adding."
—Samuel Beckett

Here I am—
Late evening sometime
In the nearby future

Krapp's den—
Front center a small table
Drawers open towards audience

Sitting at the table—
Facing the audience
I’m crappy Krapp again

Pale faced, purple nose—
Disordered grey hair with
A frowning expression

A pause

On the table a tape-recorder—
With microphone & a number of
Cardboard boxes sitting there

Reels of recorded tapes—
Inside the boxes, strong white
Light above, the rest in darkness

I remain motionless—
I heave a forlorn long sigh
Look at my watch, shake my head

I fumble in my pockets—
Take out a small bunch of keys
then stoop, unlock the first drawer

A pause

I take out a reel of tapes—
I pick spool five and put it on
The stupid tape recorder but pause

I go backstage into darkness—
Ten seconds, a loud pop of a cork 
Then a snort of some Irish whiskey

Back at the table I wipe my mouth—
Take out the ledger and push the
Button so that the tape begins

I bend over the ledger, turn pages—
Find the entry I want and read along
As my voice comes off the tape

A pause

“Equinox, memorable equinox”—
I raise my head, staring blankly into
The darkness as the voice goes on

I assume a rather listening pose—
Bending my head to listen to the
Voice that was once me back then

Leaning forward, elbows on table—
Hand cupping ear towards machine
Listening intently to the Voice

It’s a strong voice, rather pompous—
Clearly my crappy Krapp's rendition 
Of who I was thirty years ago

A pause

Crest of the wave or thereabouts—
Celebrating the awful occasion tonight
Like I used to… getting drunk

Good to be back in my den again—
Back when all I had were my old rags…
(Vehemently.) Cut it out! 

The new light above my table—
Such a great improvement over all
This darkness always around me 

Extraordinary silence this evening—
It’s strange to hear my voice again
After all these years, so self-assured

A pause

Just listening to an old year—
Back to Andre when we were living
There on Thackeray Street

There in the U-District—
Not far from campus and
The revered Neptune Theater

Well, out of all that ended up—
Hopeless business, not because
Of him but more because of me

Hopelessly hetero—
He kept having girlfriends over
To fuck the long nights away

A pause

Sometimes I’d get him off—
Between one chick & another
What a gymnast body he had!!!

And suddenly I was there again—
Listening to the tape talking about
All that old ache and pain and jizz

I switch the tape off—
I can’t stand it any longer
Leaving me brooding and blue

I take out the tape—
Throw it against the wall
Then have another stiff drink

A pause

It’s hard to believe—
It was so long ago back then
All my hopes & aspirations!!!

Smirking to myself—
I put another spool in the
Infernal memory machine

This one’s even more sexual—
A tape recording him getting off
What an animal orgasmic grunt

Long and drawn-out—
As I got every fucking shot
Of hot young male cum

A pause

Unattainable happiness—
My prolonged laugh gradually
Turning into sobbing tears

Thank God it’s all over with—
The only memory I have left is
What misery a fag goes through

The false ring to it—
Shadows of some estranged
Opus that ended up nowhere

I turn off the recorder again—
A prolonged laugh in which Krapp joins
A shabby railway-station platform? 


I brood to myself—
I go backstage into the darkness
10 seconds, pop a cork, a good snort

Fit of coughing, coming back into—
The light, sitting down, wiping my lips
Resuming my listening posture

The tape continues its story—
After my long viduity as a dying
Miss Havisham reclusive fag

All the breeders, regular fuckers—
Nursemaids, old men, infants, dogs
I got to know them well, my dears

A pause

One dark young beauty—
I recall particularly, there at the
Campus gym in the showers

I was bold enough to cruise him—
He knew my designs right away
With a schlong like that who wouldn’t

He took me home to his place—
A cheap dumpy apartment north
Of the rambling ugly campus

To my great surprise he had—
A younger freshman kid brother
Hung like a horse like he was

A pause

I switched off Krapp’s tape—
I happened to look up and there 
It was all over and done with for now

I sat on for a few moments with—
Nothing but moments, his moments
And his brother’s moments with me

I could still feel it, taste it—
I wish I could’ve kept it but you know
How slutty young undergraduates are

Ah well . . .

A pause

Spiritually a year of profound gloom—
And over-indulgence with boys, booze
And much too much dope

Until one memorable night in March—
At the end of the dock by the lake
In the howling wind, I’ll never forget

When suddenly I saw everything—
The flash, at last, that’s guided me 
Ever since then like a secret roadmap

No need for any memory—
I simply started dictating to the tape
The Voice that had set me free

A pause

Past midnight—
Never knew such silence
The earth might be uninhabited

So I end this reel—
Perhaps my best years are gone
When there was a chance of happiness

But I wouldn't want them back—
Not with the fire in me now
No, I wouldn't want them back

I sit here motionless—
Staring out before me
The tape runs on in silence

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