It seems only appropriate
in these days of bedlam
and gun-toting that men
should be wearing masks.

It is as if a holdup is underway,
and the countryside is being held
at bay. Like a dog alerting
on a cache of doves, like a canary
in a coal mine, pensive, trigger-
happy men wait to pounce
on the first sign of a threat.

Unseen and unheard, obscene
and perverted, the threat to this
life is a germ. On it, war has
been declared, and men have died,
their mettle tried and tested.

And all that remains of mankind
is a question.

Robert James Coné, author of Still Life Over Coffee, a chapbook published by Red Ferret Press, lives in Kewanee, Illinois.