Robert Knox

Unmasked Men

Trust only those with masks
the unmasked are stealing your future,
or your children’s or your grandchildren’s futures
Freedom is scarce
They will take yours
and they will not share it,
or give it back
They will consume it alone, down some hole
When you meet them, years later
******— if there is a later, if there are years —
at a highway rest stop
their children will be hungry
their faces lined with fear
The sky will explode with apologies
from the management
All boats will be leaky
Posters will warn of a man in a red hat
The leaders of the coup will be arrested
Trust no one with a camera
Truth rides a bicycle
Zip codes will be randomized in the new
Birds will fly the wrong way in winter
Ants have colonized your neighbor’s back yard
They are sending scouts, parties of militarized true believers
into yours.

The unmasked ones will tell you all is well
“You can see by our faces that we are honest”
When they approach for an embrace they have their hands
in your pockets
Their eyes on your daughter
They want to know your boot size
The time to hesitate is through
You can see the future by their smiles
The executioner’s face is not always well hidden
They steal your chickens in broad daylight
They cannot agree on what year it is, or even what day
Their leaders have not approved
the new calendar
Each day is called “now”
by which is meant “never”

Do not trust the ones without masks
Or agree to the toss of a coin
They keep their tails on both sides
They have no masks for the best of reasons:
They have no faces


Robert Knox is a poet, fiction writer, and the author of a novel based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, titled Suosso’s Lane. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal,, his poems appear regularly there. They have also appeared in Unlikely Stories, New Verse News, Califragile, and other journals. His chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty, was nominated for a Massachusetts Best Book award.

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