Enter Duke [disguised] by Joe Mills

We see through the disguise,
as we’re meant to. Just as we know
who is Rosalind and Viola and Portia
no matter their clothes. We smile
when Henry the Fifth, camouflaged
by a cloak, says to his soldiers,
“The king is but a man as I am.”
We recognize the deceptions
of Iago and Aaron and Macbeth.
Thus these plays flatter us, and, thus,
fuck us. They make us confident
we recognize people despite
the changes in clothes and hair
and roles over the years, and then
we come home early, get a call
from the police, visit the hospital,
or read an obituary, and realize
we have been the more deceived.
We have had no understanding
of who we have been talking to,
or what story we’ve been a part of,
and, even as house lights come up,
when all should be revealed,
we pore over the program notes,
baffled by what happened and why.

Joe Mills
joemills1A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills has published five collections of poetry with Press 53, most recently This Miraculous Turning. More information about his work is available at www.josephrobertmills.com and he blogs occasionally at www.josephrobertmills.blogspot.com.