The Public Face of Fireflies

The Public Face of Fireflies, 2002

When we kiss each other,
with the formless masks we wear,
they rest on our private face,
to hide who’s really there.

Our lies and malice hide behind,
a smiling face carved out of wood.
A fake smile is placed, where once the face,
of an honest man once stood.

What could we ever even know,
about the complex creature man?
Who’s naked without that made up face,
and would rather wear a lying smile,
behind a phony air of grace,
when his frailty with a mask he can replace.

What could alike be said of the real
behind the mask—
animosity, confusion, and other human traits;
still clouded by a now evaporated past—
with a mask this face we can erase.

We hide the self behind blue curtains,
of civility and taste;
until nothing of the shadow’s past we could remind.
We must appear as shadows,
in a music box seen from space;
before like a song,
we right all wrongs,
smile and then rewind.

To cover up our human nature,
with a mask made out of glass,
for ourselves we make the good,
and for ourselves the bad,
to hide the animal in all of us, alas;
more hollow than the ringing of a silent echo could.

Oh, could our plastic kissing faces,
hide all of us behind—
before last year’s unpleasantness,
our present might remind?
Or could this porcelain mask today’s unease replace,
before we are forever trapped behind a porcelain face?
Could we helpless crawling creatures,
hear aloud the midnight sun—
before we’re washed away like chalk-lined phantoms on the floor?
With the mask undone our life’s no fun,
when ourselves we know no more.
But still we hide our eyes behind,
not the face with which we’re born,
but with a mask we’ve always worn.

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