The Mask

David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in rainy Manchester in England, and after spending most of the 1970s in Vienna he moved to Arizona. Since arriving in Phoenix he has pursued his writing, and been active in various capacities in the poetry world. The Bitter Oleander Press recently published his translations from the poetry of Austrian poet Christine Lavant as “Shatter the Bell in my Ear,” adding to collections his own original work over the years of small press activity. He does not complain about the heat, even at the height of summer, but does often register discontent at other circumstances, and come to believe in a balance of aesthetics and edge in art.

The Mask

Tragedy’s mask hangs on a rusty nail, its features melting and its
skin worn thin by too much use. Through the eyeholes one can see lost
empires, crows descending onto battlefields, and the wildflowers that grow
over them. A cigarette sticks to a corner of its mouth with enough tobacco
left for a few more drags. It can be stretched to fit any face. It sometimes
seems to speak, but never in the bold way generals do. For centuries, it
says, we listened to the glorious speeches designed to make our pulses
fast with pride as we raced to defend a high ideal and insult death, but
death deceived us. It does not come charging draped in colors, but steals
into our homes like the cleaning woman and leaves everything polished to
a dazzling sheen.

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