PERSONA

I have a cheerful one,
a placid one, unremarkable,
with small pink lips but Kali

of the bloody tongue,
Kali festooned with screaming skulls
trembles here, behind this matron’s mask.

Any moment her blueblack arms
might emerge from my polyester shirt
and throttle that man sipping his tea.  She

may jump onto the counter
and fling saucers and cups, split through
my skin, bite heads and crunch down bones,
break the door, smash the steps,
dance her pounding dance
down the crackling road.  Meantime,

I drink coffee
through my small polite mouth hole,
hold my cup
in one beige hand.

Some days the coffee
tastes like blood.

Our shriek
could shatter
all the glasses in this town.

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