Wear a Mask!

Linking to Writers' Pantry #46

 I had a lot of fun with the erasure poetry last month, so gave it some more tries. I thought this one was very fitting, for obvious reasons!  The source I used was a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask. You can probably see where this is going already!  The words I used are in red, and my poem follows.  I wrote it with the word "mouth" being a verb, so pronounced differently from the noun mouth on our faces! 

We Wear the Mask 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 mild;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

 Wear a Mask!

The mask hides our debt

 to human hearts.

We smile,

mouth with tears and sighs.

Our cries arise.

But, wear the mask!

©2020 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved


  1. An inventive example of erasure poetry! Bravo!

  2. We wear the mask ... so many subtle ways in which we do. This is so well done.

  3. This year will not be easily forgotten will it?

    1. Oh, no, it certainly won't! I'm not sure which will be remembered most vividly, the pandemic, or the election aftermath.

  4. What a delight! You've taken a piece that was good in its own right and made something equally good but very different – and most apposite.

    I'm glad you've enjoyed the erasures!

    1. Thank you very much! It was pretty amazing to come across something with masks!

  5. Replies
    1. You are so welcome, and thank you for stopping by!

  6. You know, we should have a face mask prompt. For as your poems suggests, and Helen’s comment reiterates, there are so many things that brew out of mask wearing.

    Love the closing very much.

    1. That would be interesting! My daughter blogs for her university and said her next post is going to be a "rant" about people who won't wear masks. Yes, masks can lead to a lot of places, although most of us are probably thinking of face masks right now! I noticed a lot of the "Celebration" poems were about the pandemic.


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