The Many Faces of Man

The people in the street make faces inside my head.
I am all of them, and yet, when we are all one face,
all eyes and lips flickering into one grin, one leer,
it is grotesque. A million eyes, and we are all the same.
Driven slowly mad, we are like thousands of light beams,
refracted from a single cell. They form snapshots in ice.

He loves her, but he is nervous. The professor wears
a dust jacket of remorse. A life spent in study,
of academia and intelligence, wasting into nothing.
Hair films into grey. Hemmed in by paperback and broken binding,
disappearing inside the dust of novels, unable to extrapolate himself.

The poetic adolescent in the pinstripe and pointed shoes
cuts a razor figure. His slim silhouette drags a cigarette
and speaks in a voice soaked with hazy arrogance and alcohol.
Puts his arm around a girl, whispering Wilde.
He jaunts his trilby and fades away under the smoky streetlights.

A boy stands facing a mirror, smearing his mouth in lipstick.
It forms a sad leer, a joker smile. Sticky cheeks.
Slow and torturous, he lines his eyes with heavy brushstrokes,
which drip and smudge with frustration.
Tears and defeat wash away his secret face.

Yet there is glory in decay, and as a tramp
weaves a path beside a sloughy canal, dancing in the daylight,
the light shines on pavements shimmering with rain.
They breathe as stained glass, and the sky
Is all melting diamonds.