An Old Poem about Masks and Intimacy

I have been looking through old manuscripts. I don’t believe how many I have! You probably have too. At any rate, I have decided to post  some of my old (very old) poems here. They are from the 80s when we lived in Los Angeles. In case you are wondering, the “I” in each is a character, not me.  They are fiction. You, as a fellow author, know how these “people” take form from words and images. That is the greatest delight in writing.

The title of this particular poem is “Mask.” We all have many of them, each suited to a different occasion. They are our most important social accessories, but sometimes, they come off.


Eva Gonzalès - An actress with a mask


The face of my fear bares

broken spaces, primitive

patterns for appearances

before fire.  It throbs

in shadows, patterning

memory and hope.  You lift

it off like cured plaster:

It pulls.  Cool air washes

my cheeks;  blood-light

floods my lids.  We hang

the casting on a wall

and I see why I stayed

so long on that seductive

shore where death wears

parrot wings and orchids.

Now sweet night slides

through this room

like a river and I ride.


Arroyo Suite: Poems from Highland Park, California


We lived in Highland Park, a unique Los Angeles neighborhood, for three decades. It is where our beautiful daughter grew up and went to school. The district is centered around the Arroyo Seco, a sycamore shaded valley dotted with historic structures and home to the Arroyo Arts Collective. (I participated in their wonderful annual studio tour for several years.)

I wrote a series of poems about the area, and, more especially, my relationship to it at that particular time in my life. Mid-young adulthood has its particular joys and challenges. Going to poetry groups and being encouraged to “express emotions” can, well, you will see. img307img308img309img310img306img304

Highland Park, I understand from my readings on the Internet, quite different now. It is undergoing an inevitable discovery and gentrification. I, too, am different. There are landmarks of continuity, but the only real constant is change.

I created the little booklet reproduced here for sale at a student outdoor event at Barnsdall Art Park, where I took uninstructed drawing and painting classes (shared models) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I did paste-ups and ran off sheets at the photocopy store. Then I cut them in half and stapled them. The first batch was signed and numbered. The one I copied was from a small second batch I ran off to accompany a similar little book with poems about Hollywood Boulevard, Franklin, and the Ivanhoe suburb. The cover is on blue cover stock. The rest is on white copy paper, and the whole thing has actually held up pretty well.

I decided to share it here in case it gets lost. If you find a copy of this, you have something rare (okay, not everything rare has any value, but, at least you know a little more about it now). I don’t think there were more than 20 in the numbered batch, and at least one was taken apart for display on a bulletin board somewhere (I heard.)

NaPoWriMo Day 12

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I’d like to say, but never would, that

I am



as much



2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 12: Write a “Broke” Poem

By Greg Lundeen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Today, write a “broke” or “broken” poem for Robert Brewer’s blog.

2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 12 | Write a Poem a Day Until May |

Mine is a wish for friends in the upper midwest currently enduring round after round of snowy storms.

The storm
has broken
at last,
Across the
swings the
broken arc
of a rainbow.
An overjoyed
finch has
broken into

#AprilPrompts – Day 11 – THRILLER | Donna L Sadd

Maria Slavona [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a Day 11 prompt on Donna L. Sadd’s blog. I don’t know why it says Day 9. I’m sure there’s a reason. I’m often confused.

#AprilPrompts – Day 9 – THRILLER | Donna L Sadd.

Here’s a contribution:


She has retreated

to a basement

where there is

no back door

and the grimy

window is too high

to reach, and the

skulls of previous

victims crunch

slightly under

her feet. She shares

a dark corner with

a rather large  spider,

a snake of indeterminate

toxicity, and a few

odd mice. Then,


down the steps,

a shaft of light…

Donna L Sadd

Day 11, NaPoWriMo: Write a Tanka

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In nearby orchards

frosted blossoms have withered

pink petals drifting

on a breeze too late to save

their promise of abundance.

2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 11

By User:Vassil (File:Sépulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12.jpg) [CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Write an in case of_______ poem.

2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 11 | Write a Poem a Day Until May |

In Case of Loss

In case of loss,

look the last

place you

would expect,

the one

you would say

“Why on

Earth there?”

Always works.

Day 10, Donna L. Sadd’s Prompt: Write a Poem About Heart

By Jerry “Woody” from Edmonton, Canada [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Today’s prompt on Donna Sadd’s blog is to write a poem about heart. Here’s mine:

The token

in my story

was going to be

a golden heart,

until I heard

every book

crossing the desk

centered on

that symbol

of life and love,

so I decided

to move a beat

further into

another constant

of life: change.

For Day 10, A Poem About Suffering

Henri Théophile Hildibrand [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons
Today’s subject for Robert Brewer’s blog is suffering. Click on the link below to read the contributions of the community and add your own. Mine is below. Don’t worry about me, LOL, the speaker in the poem is suffering. I am fine. I wanted to get inside the feeling and went back to periods in the distant past when I experienced it.

2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 10 | Write a Poem a Day Until May |


I am

at the bottom

of a well.

I have


been here,


I suspect

I have not.

When I look

up, the

night is


and I imagine


The stone

walls of my

prison are

slick with putrid

moss. I

can see

no hope.

I can see

no hope.


She steps

out of the

fog that

hangs around

until noon

every day

this time

of year, furtive,

turning to

see if he

is still following,

the one who

knows about

the stain on

her best coat,

the one she

left under

Santa Monica


By RHaworth (Roger W Haworth) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons