Hiding

Facial Tiers

You think you know me well
but I’ve been hiding all these years;
the man in the iron mask,
the stranger at the Masked Ball,
throwing necklaces from the floats
at Mardi Gras;
Halloween year round.

My face is sewn on my skull
like a bad hair weave.
Rip the stiches out
only to find another mask
made from an outlaw’s bandana
or a clown’s greasepaint
or molded in papier mache’;
geological layers of faces
showing the ravages of time.
Still I want you to know me

so, when I lie dying
bring blackboard erasers to my bedside
and clap them together.
You will see a quick flash
of light flying through
the dust of white chalk motes.

Weigh my body before and after death.
you will notice a difference
of only twenty-one grams.

That was me.

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Holding on to memories

Remembrances

They only exist in the
corners of the room now,
like repossessed spider webs,
the tenants gone
unable to make rent;
dusty strands of silk,
fading threads of memory
offering only glimpses here
and there, sneak reviews
of life already past, or recollections
of that bare sight of thigh
above a woman’s stocking
before she lowers her dress.

All things you do
become memories and
attach like mistletoe,
needing a host,
slowly draining you
sprouting white berries
lovely to kiss underneath,
but dangerous to eat.

Or, perhaps they are like
the wispy ends of dreams
as you awaken,
not telling the whole story
but letting you remember
just enough to keep you
from going back to sleep.

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Caretakers

Reciprocation

You tell me you wish
to pay me back
for those dinners out
when you were in school
surviving on macaroni and cheese.

You offer me a trip to Paris
as reimbursement for the down
payment on the used car
that burst its radiator
as you drove off the lot.

But all I reallly want
is for you to inspect the bruises
I develop in the nursing home
and make sure they aren’t suspicious,
to come and read to me so I hear something
other than my ghosts from the past,
to make sure they change both
the sheets and my diapers.

I only ask that you help
keep the flies from my eyes.

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Who knows?

The Hurrying

Some say it is like going to sleep
eyes closed, dreams approaching
like a warm summer evening
soft breeze blowing, sun fading
like a flower opening for the first time
only to close again
but maybe it is the salmon swimming upstream
until hooked on the bear’s sharp claws
a lobster dropped into boiling water
attempting to climb from the pot
or bawling calves running down the chutes
before the sledgehammer connects
like the gazelle fleeing from the lion
or an old man dying in bed, legs twitching…
little wonder they hurry
for the dead travel fast.

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