Once

Once,
On a yellow paper, with green lines, he wrote a poem,
And called it “Spots”
Because that was the name of his dog,
And that is all it was about.
The teacher gave him an “A”
And a gold star.
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door,
And read it to all his Aunts and Uncles.
That was the year his sister was born,
With tiny tonails, and no hair,
And Father Frankie took them to the zoo
And let them sing on the bus.
And his mom and dad kissed a lot
And the girl around the corner sent him a Christmas card
Signed with a row of X’s.
And his father always tucked him in at night.
He was always there to do it.

Once,
On a piece of paper torn from his notebook,
he wrote another poem,
And he called “Question Marked Innocence”,
Because that was the name of his grief
And that is what it was all about.
And the teacher gave him an “A”
And a strange and steady look.
His mother never hung it on the door
Because he never let her see it.
That year he saw his sister necking on the back porch
And his parents never kissed, or even smiled.
And he forgot how the end of the “Apostle’s Creed” went,
And Father Frankie died.
And the girl around the block wore too much make-up
That mad him cough when he kissed her,
But he kissed her anyway.

Once,
At 3 A.M., he tucked himself in bed,
His father snoring soundly.
He tried another peom, on the back of a pack of matches,
And he called it “absolutely nothing”
Because that is what it was all about.
And he gave himself an “A”
And a slash on each damp wrist,
And hung it on the bathroom door,
Because he couldn’t reach the kitchen.

The Mask Shop

In every town is a Mask Shop. It is not on any map, nor is it listed in any adress book. To find it, you must write your birth name and current adress on a plain sheet of paper, leave it in your mailbox. It will be gone by the next morning, but do not worry the envelope ALWAYS finds its way back.

Exactly one week from the moment you mailed your name and adress, you must open your mailbox. Inside will be the same envelope, perhaps a little worn, but your paper will be gone. Instead, there will be another adress inside, on a soft powdery paper. This is where you will find The Mask Shop. You can go wheneveer you’d like, but you may only go once.

The shop itself is a nondescript building with darkened windows. Pedestrians walk by it without really noticing it; in fact you have probably passed it MANY times before. There is no ‘Open Sign’: it is always open. When you enter, the first thing you will see will be the rows of lifelike masks. No two the same. Marvel over them, try them on if you would like. Take your time , but I recommend you do NOT take any with you.

When you are ready to leave, walk back towards the door. And old man will be there to open it for you, holding a folded sheet of paper. If you do not have a mask, he will smile and hand you the paper, then open the door. If you do have a mask, he will keep the paper and perhaps smile a little wider than expected as he holds the door for you. No time will have passed while you were in the shop and the door will be locked if you try to get back in.

Should you take a mask (which like I said I do not recommend) an anonymous call will be placed to the police that night, giving your birth name and current adress. They will find you on the floor of your house, your faced sliced cleanly OFF.

Then a new mask will be waiting on the shelves of The Mask Shop…