New Skin

Poem by Chris Crittenden. Photo by Jill Burhans.

his mask gave way,
rebellious as cardboard.

it was like folding a box
which tore suddenly,
instead of contained.

the rightness of the rectangle
that engulfed his cubicle
was not made for this.

he was, all at once,
a crack in a strut.  quiet flaw
in a grid of complacent

his face leapt hot, pliant--
had blood.

it peeped over a wall of binders,
wouldn't stay buried
in the ether of a screen.

his mouth seesawed,
refusing to pause.
blurted, belched and spewed.

it argued in a
language of giggles which his co-workers
couldn't understand.  wouldn't speak
such lack-of-clock.

(no flowers were widening
on the valves that nourished
their aortas).

he expostulated,
fluent in this new magic.

one person came close,
a woman with whom he once
exchanged smiles.

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