Behnd the mask when masks are up front (a poem)

A self-portrait of sorts.

I am posing as myself
a role for which I am both uniquely qualified
and horribly ill-suited

I have been the Brainiac
the awkward poet
the hormone-fueled misfit
the inadvertent member of an in-crowd
the expat living on ¥600 a day
the expat working in a Tokyo high-rise
the basket case returned to a vastly different world
the would-be artist (the more obscure the better)
the prisoner who returned willingly to the past
(because at least it was familiar
and there was occasionally sex)
the man of a certain age who learned to use his words
the isolate who sometimes reached out
(but who was strangely happy to be isolated)

I am posing as myself
but the production has dramatically changed

Everyone is posing as me
a role for which they are uniquely unqualified
and horribly ill-suited

They are the isolate
walking out to the mailbox every day
unsure of which day it is
thrilled to receive even junk mail
disappointed when the box is empty

alternating between restlessness and boredom
sleeping too much, but not enough
minimizing trips to the grocery store
but needing to get one more thing
(except gasoline)

However, they are uncomfortable
wearing the mask
and not used to not seeing smiles

I am strangely happy
beneath my disguise

(20 September 2020—posted September 21)

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