Summer Bummer, 18 (170.)

Verily, a mask is drawn down upon
the very root of one’s soul,
so the core of one’s being
is covered and bold.
Behind the mask, what truths do play!
We ply them with our tongues and spit
them outside every day.
The mask covers the face, and the face
amplifies the essence,
and mask becomes bullhorn becomes
deliverer of luminescence.
A torch, a walking torch,
they say they did espy!
What lights and leaps and fast bar fights
did blot out thy quick eyes?
The mask is not a shield, but
an invitation
to vengeance and spite and
every violent occupation.
It begs of thee,
please, do not mark my fragile frame –
if I am to be broken, then none
but myself are to blame.
No one likes a rogue.
No one likes a cheat.
No one likes the faceless, nameless
shadows on the street.
To be anyone, anonymous, aye,
there’s the rub!
And choose one’s method of self-effacement,
a mask, a costume –
a dud.
Mayhap it’s for the weak.
Mayhap it’s for the quick.
Mayhap it’s for the ones who’d rather
sing than swing sharp sticks.
Always beauty and tenderness
beneath the joints and angles of bone.
A hard shell for a gentle love
that makes any spot a home.
Play with your face, and ply your trade, then –
lead us out of the mire, O captain –
we are your squires.


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