Behind the mask
by Patrick T. Reardon


Behind the museum glass,
a polished marble scream, frozen,
with large round eye openings,
pale stone, gray as smoke,
worn in ritual by one with sharp edge,
honed for soft flesh,
or enemy
or the one offered by village
as sacrifice,


Behind the court entertainment, the work:

A fashioner draws scenery lines,
writes actor lines,
makes believe a make-believe,
stages on stage a world,
shapes events,
couplings, uncouplings,
frown up, smile down,
god of the machine,
for three hours distraction.


clock strikes,
and fashioner, home, fashions scrambled eggs and toast.


Behind the cloth, covering nose and mouth,

lungs and a heartbeat, as vulnerable as a virgin;

an actor prisoned in a madman’s script,
as random as spermatozoon
in the splash gamble race to a future;

a slowly cartwheeling anywhere-everywhere catastrophe,
like the first cancer cells,
the clot,
the rip in hidden flesh,
that I will walk away from
or won’t.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For a long time I’ve liked the Ryuichi Sakamoto song “Behind the Mask,” covered by such people as Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton (great rendition!). So, when I started doodling, that was the direction I went. Of the three parts, the bulk of the second section was written first. It was followed by what’s now the opening section. The last was always last.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared in Silver Birch Press, San Antonio Review, Ariel Chart, Cold Noon, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, Under a Warm Green Linden, and The Write City. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter and U.S. Catholic. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest. His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at