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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The White Mask

The man in the white mask
died anyway,
dropped dead on the fog-bound street
on the pavement on which
he'd missed his footing --
nothing being wholly visible that day.

Several pedestrians
would stumble over him --
dozens maybe --
before somebody or something
would move him on.
The scavenging dogs may have taken him.
All that is certain
is that nothing was ever seen of him again.

It would become a town of white masks.
Soon, white masks would be everywhere.
The streets would become full
of those slowly dying or about to die.
Death wholly unexpected when it came,
but wholly in keeping
with everyone's expectations.


Elephant's Child said...

I love it - but find myself thinking that the final five lines are true - here today, tomorrow and yesterday.

kaykuala said...

A nameless being is everywhere doing their own thing. Masked in white and not recognizable, but surviving. Nicely Dave!


David Cranmer said...

"Death wholly unexpected when it came,
but wholly in keeping
with everyone's expectations." I learned of that in a different way this week, Dave. Someone I knew and still love would have enjoyed those lines.

Another top entry from your assured hand.

Brian Miller said...

well not...that was rather eerie...and makes one wonder why they all chose the mask...interesting too on expecting death...lots to think on in this one man...glad to have you back...

Mary said...

This has a sci fi feel to it, Dave, with everyone with their white masks. I do think that death is unexpected when it comes oftentimes. One is never prepared even if one sees it all around..........

haricot said...

This poem reminds me of "Pest", and the aftermath of the disaster in Japan.

Janine Bollée said...

Hospital nightmares in verse
So sad to hear of your health problems.
Let's hope the follow-up news is good.

Jim Murdoch said...

This is a stark little piece. The last three lines are especially profound. It reminds me a bit of a poem I wrote many, many years ago about a woman who has a breakdown outside of a large department store:


      Anna broke down
      by the back door of Arnotts -
      she slipped to the pavement
      and cried.

      Everyone just passed by
      thinking she was drunk.

      Some threw money.

      22 October 1978

Could never quite get that second stanza right; think I’ve fixed it here.

We hear stories about people who’ve collapsed or been left for dead on the street and have lain there for a long time before anyone took pity on them. No one wants to get involved. Everyone’s scared they might get sued. What a world. Everything is someone else’s responsibility.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I agree with Jim, stark is the right adjective for this poem..I would add that it takes you also by the scruff of your neck ( if I remember this expression correctly!), and there's a strong vein of Poe in it.

Cait O'Connor said...

This does have a sci-fi feel to it. I can see a story unfolding. Hope you are feeling better, sorry to hear you have been poorly.

Rose said...

The air that we breathe! How do we escape death for death is a certainty no matter what we do to prevent it. Interesting write :)

jabblog said...

There is no mask - or cure - for life.

Carl said...

I am curreently reading a book about the plague so your timing is spot in as usual.

A Cuban In London said...

Spectral, surreal and very prophetic! :-)

Greetings from London.

Steve King said...

It's unnerving to see folks on ordinary streets wearing those masks...such a frail shield to fend off the inevitable. Your understated narrative somehow magnifies that sense of unreality. Nice work. I hope all is well with you!

Ygraine said...

This reads so like an apocalyptic vision...and reminds me of the streets of Japan, where so many people wear those white masks on a daily basis.
Are we all dying slowly from the invisible smog behind our masks?

Yes, this is indeed eerie...deliciously so!
Bravo Dave :)