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Hidden Identities
by Ann Christine Tabaka

Sad eyes weep through painted faces,
masked in solitude amid the crowd.
No one dares look to see behind
a future dark and bleak.
Colorful designs dance across sullen frowns.
Compassion talks a stalwart story
filtered through papered lips.
Identities hide like a thief in the night.
Suffocating, I reach to expose my breath,
to gasp in life, to exhale grief.
All the while we march along,
distancing our hope.
Sheltered from existence,
sheltered from the truth.
Love creeps through in spite of fear.
Masks rain to the ground in gay profusion,
blanketing the earth.
Stepping out into the sunshine,
life takes hold once more.

PHOTO: “Bronze mask sculpture” by Joseph Bernardi, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Ideas and emotions percolate up from inside me, and I am compelled to write about them. Some of my poems and stories are based in reality, but I tend to prefer the ethereal. I first started writing poetry in 1965, when I was 14 years old. I kept a handwritten journal of all my rhymes and musings — it read like a diary of my life. I was a Fine Arts major in college, but switched gears to become an organic chemist as my career. I became serious about publishing my poetry in 2017 after being encouraged by other poet friends.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. Winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, her bio is featured in the Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020, published by Sweetycat Press. Chris has been internationally published, and has won poetry awards from numerous publications. Her work has been translated into Sequoyah-Cherokee Syllabics and into Spanish. The author of 11 poetry books, she recently has been published in several micro-fiction anthologies and short story publications. A resident of Delaware, where she lives with her husband and four cats, she loves gardening and cooking. Recent credits are: The American Writers Review, The Phoenix; Burningword Literary Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Write Connection, Ethos Literary Journal, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Foliate Oak Review, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, and Fourth & Sycamore. Visit her at annchristinetabaka.com and on her Amazon author’s page.