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.