A Poem by Carmen Williams

People wear masks 
for different reasons
some for protection
some to hide
and yet others for fun 
but mine
is not for enjoyment

It's not perfect
sometimes it cracks
and shows what is hidden
deep below the surface

It hides my reactions
and emotions
from those I don't want to see them

It's a face of boredom
and lack of interest
so that no one can see
that inside, I'm crying

It's the mask that I wear so much
people don't ever consider
that there's something beneath
someone, beneath

because I do care
it does hurt
I am scared
and yeah, I like him
but people expect me to be the strong one
the one who doesn't care when rejected
the one who gets up when pushed down
the one who's supposed to be the anchor
even while they're drowning

© 2018 Carmen Williams

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Just keep repeating. “I did ask…I did ask…”

First, I'm not sure that breaking an essay into end-stop lines adds anything. Remember, only you know what emotion the one speaking the lines should place I into them. So does changing, “People wear masks for different reasons,” to: People wear masks…for different reasons, via a line break, turn a statement into poetry? The lack of stanzas, which are equivalent to paragraphs, also made it harder.

Because of that, I looked at this as a paragraphed essay, and commented on it in that way. The suggested change and comments on why are presented under the original.

• People wear masks for different reasons. Some for protection, some to hide, and yet others for fun.
° People wear masks for different reasons. Some for protection, some to hide, and others for fun.

Not a bad opening. You establish the subject for later refining. I chopped (yet) because it wasn't needed.

• Mine is for the first two, but not the last. My mask isn't perfect. It falls off every once in a while. But it works, and it keeps me safe hiding my reactions and emotions from those I don't want to see them.
° Mine protects and hides. It isn't perfect, but it keeps me safe.

I had a problem with “for the first two” because you force the reader to stop and recall the order of the reasons. Better to restate them. I removed “my mask” because we begin the line with a reference to the mask as the antecedent, so why restate it mid-line and not at the start?

I also had a problem with the ending because the stated purpose is to hide. But it hides from everyone, not just those specified. And in any case, isn't it obvious, once the purpose, hiding, is mentioned? Why over-explain?

And finally, “hiding my reactions and emotions from those I don't want to see them.” Seems unnecessarily long and convoluted-on other words, not poetic. “protects and hides” seems to say the same thing. The reader knows what the mask does. That's inherent to the word “hide.” Right? That's why I dumped the whole end section. It says the same thing. I've just tightened it. And, fewer words = more impact.

• a face mask of boredom and lack of interest that hides my pain, fear, hurt, love, softness, and loneliness. A mask that I wear so much people don't ever think that there's something beneath…someone, beneath.

° A mask of boredom hides my pain, my fear and hurt. It buries the love, the softness, and the loneliness so deep within-so deeply buried that people can't see the pain beneath.

I broke the negatives from the positives to contrast them and kill the feeling of reading a list, I added those “the's” before each point to separate and act is a beat to hammer the point home. I changed the “someone” beneath to pain, because it seemed to have a greater emotional impact-the result of the burial rather then who it was done to. But that's a personal view. Yours may differ.

• Because I do care it does hurt. I am scared. And yeah, I like him, but people expect me to be the strong one; the one who doesn't care when rejected; the one who gets up when pushed down; the one who's supposed to be the anchor even while they're drowning

I didn't edit this, because it doesn't seem to track. We've been given no hint as to the gender of the speaker, or that this, as a whole, is related to a “he.” Is this piece in reality, a dismal damsel poem of unrequited love? No way to know, and no hints within. So given that, what can “I like him” mean to a reader? I suspect that part of the story here never made it to the page because you know it so well that you let intent guide your understanding. But intent never makes it to the page.

And, in general, the impression, thus far, is of someone hurt and hiding from the world with a mask of indifference, which doesn't track with being the strong one-the fighter who gets up to continue the fight. And think about it. The last thing a drowning person wants is to be attached to an anchor. Right?

A couple of suggestions. First is to always edit from the seat of a reader who knows nothing but what the words suggest to them, based on THEIR experience, not yours.

Next, when you finish, look at each line to see what can be condensed for more impact. Can one word replace two? Is there a more interesting, or poetic, way to say it that's even shorter? Can you reword to imply, so as to condense. Can you phrase it in a more emotional, as against dispassionately factual way? The object is to entertain, remember, not inform. Can you involve the reader more deeply by evoking a sensory memory within the reader? Mentioning the sound of children shouting when the scene is a playground references something everyone has experienced, and turns the scene real, like mention of the smell of tanning lotion at a pool does.

And for the rhythms of poetry, take a look at the Amazon excerpt to Stephen Fry's, The Ode Less Traveled. It's meant for structured poetry, but what he has to say about the flow of words is useful to all writers.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carmen Williams

1 Year Ago

Thank you for commenting and giving me your advice, I greatly appreciate it. I will de.. read more

1 Year Ago

• I will make some changes to this poem, but I will make sure not to copy what you have written. <.. read more
Carmen Williams

1 Year Ago

Yes, but this poem is very personal for me and I feel that using someone else's words for it just ma.. read more

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1 Review
Added on April 30, 2018
Last Updated on May 30, 2018


Carmen Williams
Carmen Williams


Hi! I'm Carmen. So I started writing on this website about two years ago, and I've never been too involved here. Writing is one of my creative outlets. I'd greatly appreciate if you read and commen.. more..