Unknown and Angry Man:
Psoriasis Annulata

"But thinks how out of the lion / can come forth sweetness" (Judges 14: 8-9, 14).

E. H. C., age 58: Cornua Cutanea

"a wife that maketh her husband ashamed" (Proverbs 12:14);

"A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: / but the soul of the transgressor shall eat violence" (Proverbs 13:2); "he had sewed sackcloth, / upon his skin and defiled his horn in the dust" (Job 16:15};

"God's brightness was the light, and He had horns / coming out of His hand" (Habakkuk 3:4);

"bud the horn of David" (Psalms 132:17);

"exalt it like the horn" (Psalms 92:10).

H., age 27: Keloid

Nineteenth century America's morbid fascination with deformed Black children as entertainers is well illustrated in Michael Mitchell's Monster of the Gilded Age:   The Photographs of Chas. Eisenmann.

William R., age 22, American, driver:
Sarcoma Pigmentosum

This conclusion makes a reference to the death of the near-invulnerable Norse god Balder, who could only be harmed by mistletoe. He was brought down by Loki, a trickster who fathered the goddess of death and other assorted evils and who tricked a blind god into hurling a small dart of mistletoe at Baldur.

Syphiloderma Gummatosum:
Little Lady Lena

The suggestive language is in part taken from a well-known scene in Thomas Otway's play Venice Preserved, a scene in which Aquilina, a dominatrix prostitute, is being begged by her client to kick and humiliate him.

M. K., age 48, Ireland: Fibroma

Fumus fugiens (Transient Smoke) from the Latin proverb "Vita quid est? Fumus fugiens et bulla caduca" ("What is life? A transient smoke and a fragile bubble").

The lines:

O Columbia! It is your blood in him,
He merits songs' jubilation,
and so I send him honey,
white milk, the music of forest flutes.
Live now, John Brown,
superior and in glory,
forever in Kleo's grace;

are a variation on a passage from Pindar's Nemean 3: 64-84: Kleo, muse of history.

"O Zeus, it is your blood in their veins. . . .
Aristokleidas (literally aristo [superiority], kleidas [glory]) deserves jubilant reception of song. . . .
I send you this glass of honey and white milk . . .
a foaming drink of song with breath of Aeolian flutes . . . .
through the grace of throned Kleo."

Michael Knightly, Matthew King, and Maurice-Gustave Kahn are, of course, all fictitious, though they and their stories seem plausible. And Michael Keane is the name I assign to the actual M.K. of the photograph and Fox's case study. Is the life I imagine for him any more or any less real, any more or any less fictitious than the lives I create for the other three M.K.s? As I ask in the poem, "does such guessing chronicle a true history?"

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