To Charles: Letter to a Fellow Goon – by Jay Skinner

Jay Skinner and Charles in the production of Hairspray

I want to laugh
I’ve heard the news
(and I heard it was you)
So I’m waiting for the punchline

I’m stifling certain giggles until the curtain drops
and we take one last bow together;
Cracking on the lines we jumbled,
the cues we missed
(I’ve got a feeling there’s a big one I should have seen)

You are Charles
(I chew the name like bubblegum; sweet)
but life isn’t a stage, or even an act
You are no one’s son
no one’s brother
no one’s shadow

You are not adjectives, or accomplishments
roles or reversals,
potential rap albums, or funky socks
the curls in your eyes,
or the joke you were telling
You are Charles:
The word is the adjective
the name is the definition
(you smirk when you say it)

Charles and theatre friends Austin Carlson and Kevin McGrath
Charles and theatre friends Austin Carlson and Kevin McGrath

You are Charles: the walking slapstick
but life isn’t a state, or even an act
life is closed doors and crying to yourself
when you’re stuck in the rain,
and cracked smiles on cracked out drives
like who would believe this?

I want to laugh
but I can’t find the breath just yet


This is a poem from fellow thespian, Jay Skinner, published here with is permission. Charles loved to act. He loved the stage and it loved him. He always had the audience in his hands and he was never happier than he was in the recording booth or on stage.

I  always told him he had “it” and losing him did feel like I lost Elvis. He had so much creative potential. I am so proud of his talent. I’m not sure he ever knew how much I appreciated it. I certainly told him.  

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

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