we wear the mask

The title of this post comes from a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Dunbar is a fascinating poet, in part because he’s all American. The son of freed slaves from Kentucky, he used to publish poems in a college journal which was co-published by Orville Wright. And, yes, that Orville Wright.

orville wright.jpg

Two brothers, both airmen. Sounds familiar.

Not the point of this post, however.

The point of this post is one last poem before my newest collection is published, hopefully in early January.

Also, to include a correction.

As I was going through the poems I want to include in this collection, I decided that the poem I had previously named consent needed a name change.  It makes the poem less wispy, but since both words start with “c” and end with “t” and because I’m the god-damn poet and I say so, the new title is… you guessed it… cunt.

This is a less sexual poem, I suppose, but it still deals with expectations that women have to deal with, on a day to day basis.


mascara is a mask
(it’s right there in the word).
wraps an inky layer,
an oil slick on a bird.

faux flutter, glue affixed,
a slightly better pick.
what it takes to not blink,
I haven’t learned the trick.

beauty is not worth pain,
no matter what they say.
so I’ll just wear glasses
to clearer see the way.

Hours I own all of these ideas, but none of these images.
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