The Iron Mask

A Beijing opera mask

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Absent light

We stood before the mirror

To laugh away the night—

To watch the ebon shearer

Carve away all trace of color,

No escape within the muddled dance

Like finest wine tread through the muller

Far and away from time’s own chance.


Some men would brawl

To preserve that childhood lie,

Yet all must face the wall—

The iron mask—or die.


17 thoughts on “The Iron Mask

  1. think it’s not possible to draw an easy line between childhood and our life as grown ups…the good, the bad, the emotions always mingle like in a dance..and sometimes the one or other leads..nicely penned chris.

    • The point where the emotions mingle most in the fore would probably be what most call the teenage years–drama llama and all that. As I said, it is a muddled dance we make…

  2. Been thinking a lot about masks lately–this is quite a fine and cutting piece, Chris–the rhyme is calibrated to the mood well, and drives it home (ebon shearer–that’s just outstanding language) This has a classic feel to the form and cadence, but is full of leapingly newborn ideas. Anyway–I like it. ;_)

    • A mix! And I’m glad to hear it worked out alright–that the imagery didn’t come across too haphazard. As for ebon shearer…I rather liked that bit myself, so I’m glad to hear it struck others’ fancy.

    • Thank you, Kila. But I must admit some of that may well just be me reaching out for different feels to my recent works…not all my poems are shaped this way, only my most recent posts.

      Though it certainly must be odd to see me striking up a rhyming fancy on any sort of regular basis.

  3. I don’t know, as much as you hate to admit it, your stuff has always been a blend of rhyme and free-verse. I think you’re starting to grow into your voice.

    • Oh i don’t hate to admit it. I’m not violently foaming-at-the-mouth abhorrent of rhyme–I like it when it works. Normally I just don’t actively proceed in its direction is all–lately I’ve been actively pressing it. But again, thank you–and if that’s the case, I’m glad to hear it!

  4. I enjoyed this Chris, you express a level of self ownership in life that many are unwilling to take, the flow and pace is really spot on. Always enjoy your words my friend…how you are well! ~ Rose

  5. I love masks. always have, the way they filter in to so many aspects of society, from childhood to adulthood. From rituals of tradition such as halloween, to sports, to the lucha libre’s of “pro” wrestling, to the invisible masks of imagination, to the business masks worn etc… Terrific job here, the key word here for me is iron. To which I can go on much longer, but will refrain. Great job. Really an excellent read. thanks

  6. Powerful piece, Chris. It’s sad that so many have become dependent on the mask, and would barely recognize themselves without it. One of these days, they’ll realize that you can’t hide from the truth.

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