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Is That You, Agamemnon?
Tomorrow is September the 12th,
A milestone is passed by.
-G.W. Bush, 9/11/02

From where does your authority arise,
Oh copper mask of Agamemnon?
Are you what you claim to be, or an
Intruder, a harlot in the darkening night?

You are flat.  I do not believe you.

Where is the authority that inspired Achilles,
The power who conquered Priam?

I do not see it.

I see a mask.  I do not believe in masks.
When my grandfather died, I saw his body
At the wake, but I did not see him.  His
Penciled mustache was not there, but a crude
Suggestion.  I would have cried, but I was not
Reminded of the man I had lost.  What was there
Was a mask, a shell, but not him.

Did you wear this mask in death, Agamemnon?
Or was that noble visage too proud for this
Mask we call your own?

I rotate the casket out of view.  I see instead my
Family, gathered here to mourn.  I see my mother,
In tears.  I walk away, and the mask remains there,
To be locked away in a box, in a vault of ash.  I see
What it has left behind.

There is much to see.  The mask cannot convey this,
Cannot demonstrate what my grandfather taught me,
What he inspired me to become.

Agamemnon, this is not your mask.  Your mask
Lies on the landscape, the living landscape.

When the Trojans opened their own box, they found
Only decay.  I do not wish to open boxes.  There is
More to be found elsewhere, among the living landscape,
Assembled in pockets diverse in the legacy you,
Agamemnon, left, the Greece Plato and Socrates left
For the ages, the Greece which inspired Rome, which
Inspired a continent to emerge from a dark age
Of reason challenged.

Ten years have passed since I left my grandfather’s
Mask behind in that room.  Longer has your own
Beheld a riddle still raveled.  I have lost others, and
Their masks I left behind as well, and always as I
Walked back to the living landscape.  When I look back
To that room, I cannot forms words appropriate for it.
Instead I create shadow puppets in the moonlight and
In the sun I laugh.  

That is not your mask, Agamemnon.  I will not accept it.
I have faced the challenge before me and lived.

all material © copyright Sean "Waterloo" McKenna 2002-2003