three clippings

i

i have told myself a thousand lies
about my own face,

my own beard, like a bristlecone pine.

when i was low, i said,
i looked how i felt:
like a monster.

but did you notice how i kept it
when i smiled at you last?

was i a monster then?
this is how i lie
to you and to myself.

ii

the night is kind,
it can reveal the obvious,

and surely you already know
how i love my ugliness and hate

the beauty.

until i confessed myself
and you said—no,
not in that way—

i was naïve, not
because of any surprise, but my face

in the hotel mirror behind you;
because i looked so old
and felt so young,

a mere child hid
in the brambles of a
face—i thought

it would be better not to have a face at all;
let them just imagine me.

iii

i really love it all because i must;
its gnarls threaten fate itself—saying

it will be like this or it will not be,
like so much else;

i hated every hair until the blade,
hated this whole town until i left,

i sang all night until i fell asleep,
dreamed of her until the morning came.

i loved her to my doom until it passed,
died until i was no longer dying,

bearded with a smile on my face,
naked eyed but covering my teeth.

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