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PERSONA

I go on stage with my sleeves too long,
cuffs stopped on the knobs of the thumbs.
Draped, I am draped in all this silly skin,
droll permanent garment, wrinkly self too frail
for sun, but loving sun too well. I think,
           What will I be in? What if not this,
           this good shell for the bellows,
           this one familiar face?
So I go singing on,
and wrapped in my odd shaped bag,
caper and contain
a sly assortment of wrong things:
a locker key, a severed foot,
nice turns of phrase, failed bravery.

Performance fails sometimes.
One night I hailed a cab and rode
a dark fury to an empty place.
Beneath fluorescent light,
out of context, ringing on the tiles
of an interchangeable room,
its toilet, shower, mirror,
I admired the gut of a beast
and claimed it for my own.
Its hands were mine —
I'd mapped the calluses.
I wept in the shallow basin,
abased that I should weep
for self.

      — Scott Murphy