A City Full of Eyes (James Cilhar)

About James Cihlar
Author’s Notes

 • Rancho Nostalgia
 • ’Til We Meet Again
 • Night Song
 • Lonely, Deeply
 • Light and Dark
The Face Behind the Mask
 • Johnny Guitar
 • Undercurrent
 • Nora Prentiss
 • King Arthur and His Mob
 • The Normal Lives of
    Good People
 • English Poem
 • The Projectionist
 • Man Proof
 • The Reality Show
 • Modern Maturity
 • Epistemology Roadshow
 • Nostalgiarama
 • Let’s All Chant
 • Rancho Nostalgia II



The Face Behind the Mask

When I met him on the pier at night,
Street lights’ reflections wriggling
on the embankment
like some crazy static,

I told him, a mangled face,
that ain’t nothing. I smiled at him
like we was on a date, even though,
slinking along in a black fedora

and his collar up, he was in the flesh
the monster from under the bed.
I knew what he was thinking
before we met. I was back there

flipping a coin to see if I’d stop him
or if I wouldn’t. Oh, it was just some sporting interest.
Heads he jumps and tails he doesn’t.
Heads I saves him and tails I doesn’t.

My name is Dinky, what’s yours?
Janos, he told me, Janos Szabo.
What do you get out of being dead,
I said. Laying in a grave ain’t my idea of life.

We was meant for each other
like his face was meant for that mask.
We wanted the same things.
A good hot and cold water hotel,

four square meals, music. I took care of him,
and he took care of me. I didn’t want to squeal
on him and Helen, trading in a life of crime
for a house with green shutters,

but Jeff and the mob held my feet to the fire.
Even then, shot and thrown from a car,
last thing I did before dying was call and warn him,
Don’t turn on the radio, beware of what you love.

It can kill you. Like I said on the pier,
I’m looking at you, and I’m talking to you.
Hey, you’re pretty lucky
to find a guy like me.

  © James Cihlar, 2012


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