Nothing is as it seems.

Chameleons one and all:

each of us a slip-knot away

from the seasoned imposter.

Notice the glinty smile of a

marble-constant church lady,

tireless worker for “God’s Love

We Deliver;” marching to stop all wars;

thrice divorced; her heart the lonely

hunter, unable to trust the delicate

boundaries of love.


We all have masks of our own devising

and can easily shed our own skin:

the bored giggling class clown

squeezed on the back of the neck

by his cranky math teacher

wipes the grin off his face

by thinking of a car crash with

mother pinned behind the wheel.

A high school solo trumpeter

embarrassed to stand after

eye-balling the girls playing

cello straddled between their

creamy white thighs, imagines

his marine bro coming home as a

quadriplegic, quelling his ardor

faster than saltpeter.


A burned-out orthopedist weary

of too many patients uses his tongue

to count every tooth in his head

over and over as he listens politely

to hypochondriacal rants of needy

old folks who are falling apart.

Patients admire his patience, not having

a clue that his kindness is a hollow

caricature of what he once was.

When the houselights dim and a hush

comes over the audience, who among us

is not prepared to take center stage and

play a leading role in the dramatic script

underlying the shadow of one’s persona.

M.P. Ehrlich