Poetry: Classic to Contemporary

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 overwise,
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!

Mask by Ain HD (Homage to Paul Laurence Dunbar)
From [If] Life's Rotten, Write to the Core

I abhor
Generic emotions
Plastered expressions
And masks
We wear
To foster comfort
In Dick and Jane

Strained smiles
And fake contentment
On black faces
Only triggered
When “appropriate”
Simply constructed
For Dick and Jane

Passive gestures
Bowed heads
Forced King’s English
And quick self-correction
When Black vernacular
Unconsciously slips
By full lips
Before Dick and Jane

I abhor
Black potato head -
Sambos grinnin’
On cue, Oblivious
That they’re orchids
Posing as dandelions
In a field of lilies

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