The day to day existence of people
If that doesn’t change, then what is all this?
These protests, these stances, rage, pieties
Passionate words, eloquent poetry
What’s the use of any of it today
If tomorrow and many days to come
Aren’t shaped differently, aren’t lived differently
Which calls the question: what do people want?
What do they want, not just what they don’t want
Let’s list it, let’s study the list closely
And before these items are pinned to life
Let’s have that conversation: what is life?
What kinds of life forms are we? All of us
And what’s best for each and everyone here?
It’s imperative we keep flesh intact
We don’t want perforations, abrasions
Or undue irritations marring it.
We also want to guard coloration
Of whatever hue hones to its nature,
The smallest capillaries must breathe free.
When a breeze fans it, we love the perk up
When flesh grazes it, we love the perk up
The heat or cold of curiosity.
It’s imperative we keep flesh intact.
Painters, if they ever make the come back
Might plumb flesh, flush out commonality,
Poets, if they ever make the come back
Might suture flesh, restore integrity.
And suddenly, the words are gone again
The globe’s entire surface of meaning
Has been wiped clean, what lingers is absence
Tightly banded around your mouth and nose
Making its way to the next waiting spot
Procession in a cadence of silence
Choreography of the miasma
Something in the air, separate from the air
Something that can seize you, make you its own
Offer you to the spiky mothership
Intelligence of no intelligence
Impervious to all arts to name it
Though we name it, give it a million names
And witness a million names flicker out
People will forget, or want to forget
All this rubbish of masks, all this haggling
The so-called “tough” non-masker, the said “weak”
You can see some here! young, at river’s edge
Fully masked quartet, likely monster free
With shield and sword, phalanx facing the foe
Someone else’s death – not their own, they stand
Stoutly defend their people – all people
While popping, or trying to pop, pink champaign
Spilling over muffled conversation
One springs up to take a gulp, six feet off
And here comes a fifth! black, bloody fanged mask
Completing the quintet, soon forgotten
Save for this sonnet straining against it
These sonnets first appeared in slightly altered form and arrangement in The Charm & the Dread.