The Beards Ignited – William Doreski

The Beards Ignited
Last night all the local beards
ignited, burning off to expose
faces gone unseen for months.
The fires left the flesh unscorched,
but the men blister with shame.
We’re still masking ourselves against
the virus worming its wormholes
through the populace, so blushes
decently conceal themselves
so men can drive their pickups
in the usual manly aggressive way,
tattered sun-bleached flags rippling
in the stink of untuned exhaust.
I’m glad I’ve never grown a beard,
preferring the sheer of a blade.
The smell of burnt beard lingers,
but it’s not unpleasant, rather
like bacon sizzling in its fat.
Police, several formerly bearded,
investigate with open pores,
hoping inspiration will strike
a chord everyone understands.
I fear the mystery of fire
will remain mysterious, the date
will linger not in infamy but
the secret laughter of women.
The beardless male population
of this town will have to get on
with construction, repair, plowing,
wiring, plumbing, and teaching kids
to avoid the sins of puberty,
which always has its way with us,
no matter how shyly we squirm.

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