For the Applause of All or the Love of None

                    i. Putting It On

To extinguish shadows with a word
for the applause of all or the love
of none, is it worth going unheard
if, in the end, only some are touched?

To get what want one’s lips wish to beg
is for a face’s farce to barter
with its mask, to pay-off fame, exchange
its painted veil for what fits better.

Nor does his play upon secret signs
make the architect’s eye rising on
dashed hopes broken along Libran lines
less persuasive than painful a con.

Any artist worth his hustle makes
up for lost time earning lives he fakes.

                    ii. Phoning It In

The sound of a pocket dialling-
in for its niche audience what soft-
lit confessional’s nuance binds them
if not by oath, then chance, seals god off.

Shuts him out such that this performance
pisses him off, apostles act up
but cannot live down what symptoms sins
give them, shivering with gospel shrugs.

To doubt oneself often enough costs
more than one shelf of a poet’s works
can profit from before losing jobs
to one’s hell becomes another’s source.

An author, of course, need not force truth
when, as if lips unglued, it runs through.

                    iii. Working It Out

Rivulets impress upon heavy
lids whispering kisses weeping with
no illusions secrets we who keep
them throw from our thrones what things we hid.

That even one face among the crowd
could see what in such silence our guild
bade us carry around wrapped in shrouds
would teach the weak to seem strongly-built.

Denuded of our costumed alibis,
gossamer minstrels whose guitars our
admirers might conclude otherwise
are no more than props, when stripped we’re scarred.

One letter divides a person from
a persona, both better than none.