We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask
By: Paul Lawrence 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 mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!


I always hated sunglasses. I always thought they were for people who were hiding. That’s okay. Isn’t there a point when we all need to be hidden? When the world expects you to keep churning, where can you seek sanctuary?
Where can you feel safe when you feel like your soul is rotting?

How do you find God’s arms on earth while you’re slapboxing with Jesus?

How do you break through a glass ceiling when your knees are bucking and your feet are bleeding? 

What is your mask? What do you use to shield the world from the flaws that make you human? Are you trying to breathe and trying to shout but someone or something is holding your head under water? Someone has placed a big black garbage bag over your head in the middle of your climactic monologue. Now the scene is ruined.

We wear the masks.
We hide and repair.
We return as survivors not victims.
Warriors wear masks.
No shame.
No fear.
We wear the masks.

By: Shaun Nickens

Beauty for Beauty

I wrote a piece entitled “Saints and Poets” about 3 months ago. It was deleted accidentally and I was heartbroken. I never had the courage, patience, or frankly…the balls to re-create it. The feelings and emotions that intercourse to breed the content of “Saints and Poets” sparked once again and came up with a really cool scene. It is in no way as good as the original but it was fun to write.

“I am one who tells the truth and exposes evil and seeks with Beauty for Beauty to set the world right.”
~ W.E.B Dubois

EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”
― Thornton Wilder, Our Town
Now the two, stood naked in a corner holding one another. They were an unlikely pair…

It was so dark. It was so cold. It was excruciating. You could smell the impending death. They were coming. You could hear their breaths. You could see their green eyes in your nightmares. You couldn’t hear their hearts beat.

Although the sound was faint, he knew it was there. Tom knew their hearts could still beat. He knew they could still feel.
Tom was a faithful person. He never stole anything, not even a pen. He was the type a guy to always leave a penny in the “take one leave one” tray at the 7-11. He would leave his change in the vending machine so he could surprise the next person. He never forgot a birthday. He never forgot an anniversary. In fact, he would forget his OWN birthday! He just loved people but more importantly, he believed in the goodness of the human heart. Tom was small framed, balding, and he kept his wardrobe impeccably simple. He had 7 different button down shirts, 3 polo’s, 2 t-shirts for the summer and 4 pairs of khaki pants. He did his laundry every Friday at the Laundromat in his apartment building. His sock drawer had dividers to keep everything separated and organized. He kept bleach under the kitchen sink to keep his socks white. He budgeted $5 per paycheck, in case one of the items in his “wardrobe” needed to be replaced. Tom didn’t have many friends but the friends he did have called him a Saint.

Samaria was what her dad called a “rebel without a cause.” If you said the sky was blue, she said it was magenta. She saw colors where there was only black and white. She described grey like a rainbow. She was tormented by life and impaired by her imagination. If you paid a penny for her thoughts, you would wait for a refund. It would never be because her thoughts weren’t intricate and unique. It would be because they were too heavy for the average person to carry away from the conversation. Samaria was a dreamer and she counted blessings not sheep. Samaria was a fighter and she would battle 300 warriors in the blistering cold to defend the honor of someone she loved. The dwelling in her heart had multiple vacancies. There was always an invitation to be warm there. Samaria was a poet.

Now the two, stood naked in a corner holding one another. They were an unlikely pair…

-To Be Continued-

-Shaun Nickens

***Day 5 of the 30 day writing challenge. Thank you to my new followers, I smile every time I get an alert. Keep the comments coming. Leave your feedback @shutyamouthnow on Twitter. Happy New Year!



call me because you can’t live without me
call me because you love me
call me because you’ve decided to cherish me unconditionally
call me because you appreciate me
call me because I’m your “one and only”
call me because you’re lonely
call me because I’m the best
call me because without me you can’t rest
call me because I’m sexy, responsible,  loyal,  and I make you feel safe and free
call me because I make you happy
call me because your adoration for me is why you’re over her
not the fact that her adoration for him is why she’s over you
call me because I decode your messages
and decipher your texts like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics
call me because you want to be on a winning team
call me because my voice soothes you like a dry epidermis submerged in an oatmeal bath
call me because my aura heals you like vitamin e oil on scarred skin
call me because when you feel down I take my manicured fingers and lift your chin
call me because …