By Thomas Page
Le Masque de Lycées
We waltz to a beat of six feet apart With our black masks hiding the stories of our teeth and beards Relying on kind eyes to say hello and good morning— A masque of sorts— To hide in our rooms in thirty-odd desks with only one occupant. Cinderella's clocktower chimes eight times As the video feed ends and another one begins With thirty-odd blank profiles looking back As if the lights were off at the witching hour. I may as well be on the moon or the wild arctic: Floating away as the world slowly turns or Watching the blinding snow cover my window And I could shout into the wilderness and not get an Echo. They keep saying that this masque will end Eventually But what if we are Poe's guests at his ball Waiting for the Red Death With nothing inside?
Tempus fugit may seem silly nowadays when time melts as slowly as syrup, Waiting for the Tralfamadorians to whisk us away in their tin cans Philosophizing zoo animals with astrophysics in the midst of handsome beauty. I can count the lightyears on my fingers and my toes that has transpired Since I have eaten semi-stale bread at a restaurant Or seen previews in a movie theater Or anything really. So it goes. The luminous spaghetti that weaves me to you and you to me Cannot comprehend the little jolts of static electricity That come with the setting moon and the rising sun Over my head like a mobile made of ozone Foretelling my printed fate swirling over me Like a maelstrom in the North Sea. But like the hurricane, All I do is watch the cells approach As water becomes clouds becomes rain And pours on my head. Tempus lente fugit.
I Am a Man Now, Now What?
After years upon years grinding the gears I am a Man now-- A Man who pays taxes A Man who pays health insurance A Man who has to worry about the air in the tires A Man who has to worry about seventeen issues at once A Man who does. Now what? What other vistas do I have to see Or the trenches in the deep blue sea? What other lions do I have to tame Or escape another bear's maim? What other burdens do I endure Making my liver the eagle's lure? There's no lesson on what comes after happily ever after When the royals and the magicians close the curtain On this little play that is merely an entr'acte The sun hits my eye as the sky turns pink Over the summered fields of grass and grain As the first of many summered fields Without signposts.
Normal people have book clubs Like the one I was having with my coworkers And the topic of deep-sea divers came up. Normal people drink wine Like the sugar-sweet white given to me That reminded me of Austrian antifreeze. Normal people discuss diets Like the vegan one of my bosses is on. He has a famous vegan cookie recipe. Normal people complain about work Like the absurd emails we have all received With the most casual demands made. Normal people don’t finish books Like me and the other men did When the story didn’t advance. Normal people will says things Like: “Being a deep-sea diver is not what normal do,” But what is?
Uncross the Road
On a particularly warm March morning I was driving past Margaret Brent where the road curves into the hill And saw the divided remains of a cockerel Scattered like the centerpiece at the lamplight. Why on this day did the cockerel meet the steel demise? How many oxidized bloodsplatters have I seen on Point Lookout, Cast aside as a piece of refuse? Could I ever perceive its eternity-bent head? I suppose that when I drove back in the opposite direction That the carcass would be removed as if it were the ether And that I could forget all about the cockerel I knew posthumously As just a prop of my disgust.
The Gray Water
I have become an aquarius, A washerman of sorts, Carting out buckets of gray water In a resistant shop vacuum Which likes to roll over my toes. When I moved into this house I believed that the ways of aquaculture were more than they are. I only discovered where the gray water from the house went when I mowed the lawn And saw a jettison pipe Over the lush lawn. I can only look at it for a mere moment Before my gray cat decides that as I am pouring That this is her moment of freedom to hunt sparrows And like a bolt of greased lightning She is gone before the thunder strikes.