T-Rex Mask

Brandon Amico

Un-tasked with breath, but still taking on air

and light, and light on its feet for once—

feeling up for a jaunt to the gift shop

to buy what it thinks is a mirror.


And yet the spirit has no weight

to move the hull. It spills through the porous bones,

if even a thing at all, boomerang once slid from the jaw.

If it loves you, it’ll come back.


Lights out. The guards grow beards,

lose them, grey, but every weekday morn comes the same

mellifluous light, the honeyed light that cradles

the same bony mask in its palm.


When you’re famous, you’re known for one

famous expression, encyclopedia-worthy.

The T-Rex attempts a smile for field trips

but the bones don’t give; jaws remain child-sized.


Cannot see the plaque facing outward by its feet,

cannot speak to assumptions of temperament,

tyranny. Of all the imaginary, unmusical—

the tin box roars below at the press of a button.


In which the keys of the great lizard’s spine

sing under the swoop of a sliding Fred Flintstone.

Nat King Cole: But it wouldn’t be make-believe

if you believed in me. In which the dead still speak to us.


Now the distance from which extinct begins

its bleed into imaginary.

The mountain’s relief worn down, green

fog spreading smooth. We turn away.


And so the lions, and so the blind insect

that never escaped the jungle’s palate, and so

the mammoth, manatee, and our hearts

that fit snug anywhere but our own chests.


And so the continents that, over millennia,

draw their breath then exhale. And so each morning

the bathroom light comes on and we excavate

our faces, try to step backward, toward what we remember.

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