Death Mask


Let the plaster

settle, still malleable

enough to lift off

cheekbones and lips,

still moist enough

to peel back

in one piece.

Your physiognomy

intact, your character

caressed into

every crevice

or wrinkle

or hand-smoothed

plane of flawless

skin. O how

the living must

envy you now.


Pascal’s nose:

long, narrow

slightly flared

at the end,

as if forever sniffing

at the world,

disabused of its glory

that birthed his misery.

Try it: Place a man

in an empty room

with utterly nothing

to do. Boredom kills.

It begets madness.

It begets despair.

It teeters behind

absurdity, riding the fence

on the need for one more mask.


Death mask, life mask.

There is no difference

in vitality, both staid

with materials that

freeze the features,

fixed, no longer viable.

Watch how they

harden into rigid forms

of malleable love.

Timeless, all art

piggybacks on a pulse

not its own. All life

bathes in time like a sow

frolics in pools of mud:

Self-consciousness melts

into waves and waves of pleasure.

Plaster chips: time’s brand.

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