This Filipino mask was cut from Denver Pine,
from a one-limbed tree in a one-tree forest by a one-armed man,
taking a break from his bad luck job
to remove a knotted eyesore from his smoggy cityscape.

It was aged in Texas creosote,
bled from some petroleum man
seduced by the rattlesnake’s whispered purr,
a two-tongued friend tells two-fold lies,
and she writhed her way into the empty spaces.

From the street it earned a sharpened bite,
stained from drinking moose piss whisky
on those nights when fireflies flew out the mouth
and scraped the ground before they found the sky.

Those Southeast Asian islands carved into it a tattoo of pain,
it bears the marks of illness in its hollow, rain-soaked eyes,
and it is grotesque with loneliness from the rotting jungle floor,
where unnamed frogs serenade
a dengue fever with wooden echo screams.

But this Filipino mask had its horns clipped at customs,
its teeth whittled down, its look became a laughter
on the faces of his friends
as they traced the history of its features,
wondering how something small
could feel so hard.

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