Archives for posts with tag: Masks

In a Time of Hidden Faces
by Carol A. Stephen

This face, my mask of age, slips south
into my neck, wrinkles drawn down by time
and gravity into folds, creases, wattle.
Still, when youth shines forth in my smile, wrinkles
tighten. Years slip away. Or they did—

Now, a different mask, a swath of black cloth
covers dimples, highlights the slight droop
of lower eyelid under my glasses.

Over my shoulder, masks of the past
stare blank-eyed from the wall, and I remember
those days in Venice, that long-ago night in Rome,
the sweetness of a kiss by the Trevi fountain.

Those kissed lips hide now under my new mask, worn
for your safety. I cannot offer you a grin, but
I offer the people of my world my respect,
expressed by this black band across my face.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As we all consider social distancing, and that we are all in this fight against COVID-19, I thought also about my collection of carnival masks, displayed on my wall, as well as how our own faces present different masks to the world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe

Dream, Day 63
by Zoë Hajec

Free and flying.
This is the life I dream of at night in my temporary escape.
Feet pounding against the hot summer sand and cool waves rushing between my toes.
The sun beats down upon my pale skin.
Light hits the vast body of water before me,
shattering into a million pieces.
Birds chirp and fly freely.
The air smells of the fresh green grass on a cool summer’s morning,
when the world’s surfaces are misty with dew droplets.
The air smells of the rough waves of the Great Lakes breaking upon a boulder and spraying its contents like confetti.
I can see the world’s movements in colors.
Vibrant and alive once more,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a dream I had around day 63 of quarantine. Since the start of the quarantine all anyone ever hears about is what has been lost or canceled. Personally it became too much to constantly think about all the things I couldn’t do anymore, so I started thinking about all the things I could. One of those things is dreaming, and this is my dream.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Zoë Hajec is a high school junior/rising senior heavily involved in her school’s magnet program, CAPA. She enjoys learning and plans to attend a university in the fall of 2021 as a first-generation college student. Zoë also has her own online store called Zoë Dreams on Bonfire, where she sells her shirt designs. In her free time she likes listening to music, reading, and learning sign language. Recently she has begun thinking about creating a blog to publish her writing, offer advice, as well as talk about her online store and her hopes and dreams. Visit her on Twitter and Instagram.

I Might Need This Some Day
by Tricia Knoll

The day began with flag waving. Then drapes, generous blankets going in and rolled out to iced and rumbling trucks. Coffins in parallel lines on a bingo board.

Your thought was nonchalant (waste takes no haste) when you tucked remnants inside the sewing kit: I might need this some day. (No one ever believes that.)

So you dust off that case on a closet shelf beside your first-aid kit and summer’s electric fan and open it up. Acknowledge the red pin-cushion heart that came as wedding gift. Peel open curls of rolled cotton leftovers: stars splattered on black, red boats with sails unfurled. The teddy bears that beared-up your baby’s room as curtains on the window to the fir tree where the raccoon ate the robin’s babies. Two apron strings from your mother when you turned twenty-one. Those never-mind fabrics: old dreams in dark caverns.

This is some day. Now a bear mask on my lips, headdress below my nose. Filter my spare words. See beyond memory in the crosswalk.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tricia Knoll, a Vermont poet, knows that she is at-risk. She tries to write a poem or haiku nearly every day and wears a mask with small flowers on it. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her collected books of poetry include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box). Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at Find her on Amazon and Twitter.

May 3rd (Q Day #50): Día de los Muertos Mask
by Robert Minicucci

This mask, purchased from an artist friend living in Ohio with his wife (a           great writer),

is my Double-Crested Blue Jay to viral insults and assaults.

Greet gray death with color.

“We all die a little each day as we live,” chirps the happy skull. “It’s           always close.”

A dark flock constantly circling.

When it gets closer, I will make one last

poke-of-the-finger at a scraggly crow’s short sharp beak

just as the rest of the murder encircles me and feasts.

This mask protects or smothers. Depends on your choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Minicucci lives near Exeter, New Hampshire, with his wife, two of his three children, and a brindle rescue hound named Josie. He came back to poetry after reading One of Us Is Lost by Robert Dunn (a local Portsmouth poet), and Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon, whom he met in 2018 at a University of New Hampshire reading. He’s had work published in the New Hampshire-based poetry zine Good Fat, as well as the online journals Spank the Carp and Rat’s Ass Review. He is on twitter @robertminicucci when he’s not working on his chapbook.

May Day 2020 – Monologue
by Ken Hartke

Mayday! Mayday!
How can this possibly be a Friday?
What the hell happened to Thursday?
It seems the daze dribble out unseen.
Um . . . days. Oops, Freudian slip.
I probably need to watch that. People talk.
On Wednesday, the ants took over the kitchen.
I remember that like it was yesterday.
That was my big safari day.
I went deep; into the seldom-seen regions
— parts unknown down below the sink.
Raid smells funny. Squirt — squirt.
The ants retreated but are undefeated. They’ll be back.
My mask is in the car. I just checked. Again.
My lifeline to real people.
It’s still there. It is still there from Tuesday.
That was my last contact with the outside world
— Contact, as in the spoken word; as in
to a real human. Three humans…I just counted.
Monday, I went for groceries.
Yeah…Definitely Monday.
Masked Monday. Everyone is masked.
Masked, masked, masked…
We have up and down aisles now. More rules.
I’m the one going the wrong way — rebel that I am.
Old ladies give me the masked stink eye as they pass.
(Maybe that was a wink?)
A crafty friend made me a mask — blue with white ties.
Very nice, too. I discovered that I can’t tie a knot
behind my head. My usual surgical mask,
the one in the car, loops behind my ears
along with my glasses and hearing aids.
It’s busy back there. I think I need bigger ears.
Pretty soon my hair will be so long
I won’t even need a mask.
I compared eyebrows with my cat
— he still is winning. But not by much.
He is my therapist at this point.
He thinks I’m nuts. He’s starting to hide.
I notice there’s a lot of that going around.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think the novelty of masks and isolation has worn thin for some of us. We are prone to mind games and second-guessing after weeks of solitary confinement — as many single people are experiencing. That is the idea behind this rambling “monologue” poem (of sorts).

HARTKE2 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Hartke is a writer and photographer from the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, but was originally planted and nourished in the Midwest. His New Mexico images now inspire much of his writing. He has contributed work for the Late Orphan Project’s anthology These Winter Months (The Backpack Press), and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He keeps an active web presence on El Malpais and other places.


Masks of Industry
by Cecilia Kennedy

A parade of masks stretches out on Facebook, their straps trailing the pages. Sleek, sparkling—full of bold patterns and vibrant colors—they go by on industrious friends’ posts. People I know are turning them out—20, 30, 100 a day. Some have made hundreds, and they donate them. Beneath the posts, the memes march past, on the edges of the fabric, reminding me “there is no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” I’m not supposed to judge my “productivity based on what was ‘normal’ in January.” But I do. I do, when I see the masks. And here I am, in the middle of a pandemic without a sewing machine or talent for sewing.

Refreshing the page just lengthens the parade. Teens make N95 masks on 3-D printers and fly planes to deliver supplies. The fireworks at the end are the announcements: Masks Required in Stores. In a panic, I knock on the neighbor’s door to ask for a donation. I’m handed four sturdy masks that are too big, but maybe they’ll shrink.

In the store, we watch each other with wide eyes—looking, looking, looking. I like the strawberry print that another woman wears. Someone else wears a pink flamingo patterned mask—and I wish I could make my own. I’d fashion it from old jeans and bedazzle it.

When I’m done shopping, when I’ve held my breath while walking past mask-less strangers, I place my covering into the wash, hoping I can get a tighter fit. That’s my super- power: shrinking. I snap a picture of my work and add it to the parade. A caption about my progress reads: “Four masks shrunk during lockdown. How the sun and moon do shine!”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cecilia Kennedy taught Spanish language, culture, and literature as well as English composition and literature courses in Ohio for over 20 years. She now lives in the Greater Seattle area with her son Alex and her husband Nathan. Since 2017, she has published over 20 short stories in literary magazines and anthologies online and in print, including The Writing Disorder, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flash Fiction Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Coffin Bell, Headway Quarterly, Open Minds Quarterly, and Gathering Storm. Her blog Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks chronicles her humorous attempts at cooking and home repair.

Feeling at Peace in a Field of Turquoise
by Jeannie E. Roberts

Somewhere, there’s a mask, and somehow it was lost, left behind.
You tend to lose things, especially on walks — cram gloves
and hats into pockets, throw scarves over your shoulder,
though they slide, fall to frozen ground. Plodding across roads,

forging new paths, heavy boots as companion, you return home
overheated, beaded with heartiness of cold weather exercise.
Once, you found your favorite scarf mangled by snowplow.
You can’t fix terminal loss. Still, you tried to mend it.

The mask you lost, left behind was abstract, intangible,
sewn with interior stitches, yet, those with vision could see it.
Amid shadow, you stood before windowed gathering,
watched people share ready conversation, easy interaction.

You weren’t allowed to enter. Even so, you kept trying to pry
open the window. It’s as if your insight sensed something
amiss, created shield, energetic field, protection from further
frostbite and judgment — as if you were being guided elsewhere,

away from the human condition, the downside of humanity.
You don’t know. You do know the capabilities of the human
heart, its upside, generosity — the coronavirus has proven that,
for human beings have expressed compassion, united in goodness

and kindness, displayed courage and perseverance, as they help
others, risking their own lives in the process. What tangibles you
can’t fix, like scarf, you discard. What intangibles you can fix,
like windowed gathering, you transmute into brighter,

unified manifestations, where humanity shines as integrated
whole. Now, you wear fabric mask, patterned with peace signs
and flower shapes, a pandemic gift made by your neighbor.
Somewhere, somehow, you lost, left behind, the mask stitched

with inner longings, the one patterned with grief, loss, and panes
of separation. Although, you continue to lose things, overheat
when you walk, you feel at peace, like sea of Caribbean hydrangea,
patch of blue Himalayan poppies, where scent of lilac welcomes
field of turquoise.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The mask theme evoked many ideas: ceremonial masks of native cultures, masking one’s natural personality as a means of social conformity, internal masks and masking behaviors created as coping and survival mechanisms, and, of course, the protective mask worn to slow the spread of COVID-19. My poem is a journey of awareness, awakening, and of surrender.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). In 2019, her second children’s book, Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children, was released by Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books. She is poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the StairsWhen she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings. For more, visit her at

downton mask
My Downton Abbey Masks
by Dakota Donovan

After weeks of tragic news
I decide to spend seven days
watching seasons 1-6
of Downton Abbey.
The series allows me to
assume a range of roles,
wear many masks.
I’m Lady Mary, Belle of the Ball.
I’m Lady Edith, the forgotten middle child.
I’m Lady Sybil, the young rebel
who elopes with the Irish chauffeur
(mine was a Texas cowboy).
Then I’m Daisy, the kitchen drudge,
and Mrs. Hughes, trying to run a household.
At times, I’m Lady Cora,
the American interloper.
And I must confess to the devious
Miss O’Brien in me—conniving & vengeful.
And I must acknowledge the saintly
Anna in me—beleaguered and beset with troubles.
There’s the do-gooder Mrs. Isobel Crawley
who puts others first & makes sacrifices.
Finally, there’s the formidable
Dowager Countess, Lady Violet,
who encompasses all these traits,
good & bad & in-between.
She, of course, is my favorite character.
…and that’s just the women.

Photo: Tea party masks of Lady Violet (Maggie Smith, left) and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) found on pinterest.

Stylish woman at the summer beach in a hot day

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dakota Donovan is a ghostwriter for the rich and famous who lives in Los Angeles. She’s had many wild and crazy experiences while working with celebrities to tell their life stories, and some of these strange-but-true tales appear in her Hollywood Ghostwriter Mysteries — starting with L.A. Sleepers. In other incarnations, she’s written novels, plays, screenplays, and television scripts. She’s currently working on L.A. Dreamers, the second novel in the Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery series.