Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask…


Her bony hands flowed on the ivory keys—

immersing into the shadows above.

Behind the hammers and strings her mind at ease

Behind the mask she perpetuated love.


Each day the world died in her muted eyes

often undone in sodden dribs of pain

Her ears vacant with her specters in reprise

her beating chest, unhealed, and always drained.


Her soul dressed like an oft exploited sweater

Each rip made it harder to find the crucial seams

Behind her broken eyes, a future leper,

Shunned from society, forbade from dreams


Each shirt sleeve wore a salty brine of blame

The times her eyes were dried, she’d lost count by now

How sad most of those wrist-strikes were lover’s names,

Some were deeper than others depending on how…


How else again could her heart shatter—

but tattered into sad remnants of what was…

A ship sailing toward the night time chapters,

cleft in the horizon of a heart on pause.


It’s 2am and another palsy sweeps

Claiming her soul for more ill-fated dreams

As helplessly into the mirror’s deep,

her reflections cripple her self-esteem.


Her lips like blossomed rosebuds or withered lines

Alone she tries to recognize their meanings,

her sidewalk angels, bent, their words maligned

with pensive grief, she withers from her demons.


Those despondent nights, in untold realms of thought

How solitude reared its ugly head once more.

Tucked in the hardwood braced on two walls taut,

She bent down, hands clutching knees, so beaten and sore.


No manner of man could calm her sorrows

Like an infinite lake of past regrets

Was I so soon to drown mending those tomorrows

Or was I the one who would help her forget?


How could I? She was ashes, a burned down past

One swept away in the breezes, forgotten.

And I was made of solar flares, and lunar blasts,

and quasars speeding towards an early coffin.


An empty bottle held my days complete

So as you’ve surely guessed we didn’t mix.

She, a shattered glass, and I, the concrete,

just one to catch the pieces, a futile nix.


She told me once that she hadn’t known my face,

That my touch was numb, just another warming hand

That I kept the pieces unharmed in case,

in case the world went according to her plan.


She knelt while the sun fell out of the sky,

Like embers when a fire dies, her eyes closed.

Her soul retreating into solitude, but why!

So unrequited I sat alone, my heart disposed.


How painful to love someone so completely

And have them say to you, you’re protective flesh,

Something with a pulse to make the demons flee,

somewhere for her weary soul to intermesh.


However hot I made the candle’s flame,

Her soul relapsed to her times of woe

She fell asleep entwined within my frame

so slowly I’d detach from her tableau


Exasperation, my heart contends,

to beckon that woman that I’d once known.

Attempts failed from a house of glass again,

So I chose to learn how to play the piano.


The next time she crawled herself into a ball,

And spoilt her knees to pools of maroon,

I‘d ask that she would join me from her pall

And dare her smile to enter the room.


I’d start out with Chopin’s etudes

The scale in D minor I’d play that one first

Then move on to playing Chopin’s preludes

I believed her heart by now is prepared to burst


I’d wait for her to let her mask up and weep

but tears of pain? No those tears were surely not

She’d set her glasses aside, run up and leap

And embrace my soul with all that she’s got.


Behind that mask I knew she was there in wait,

A soul determined not to hurt anymore

An angel who’s been through troubled times of late,

searching for her wings and a lover’s rapport.


And I’d be that one to throw out her mask

To hold her close and pronounce our love

give me that task, oh Lord just give me that task

and I will make her spirits rise above.

Paul Neglia
Latest posts by Paul Neglia (see all)

Paul Neglia

Proud father of 3. Part time writer of poetry and short stories. I want to paint the world in but a few words.

13 thoughts on “Behind the Mask

  • September 14, 2017 at 7:41 PM

    Such a beautiful piece of sadness you’ve created – the piano connection was brilliant as were some of your other choices of imagery.

    • September 14, 2017 at 8:43 PM

      Thsnk you so much Ralph. Your comments are much appreciated

  • September 14, 2017 at 8:21 PM

    So sad yet woven in beauty, for the struggle of souls behind masks, hesitant to live. Wonderful phrasing and imagery Paul and as always, a thought-provoking work. One thing struck me, I may be wrong, but the line…’no manner of man could calm…’ not matter? Cheers!

    • September 14, 2017 at 8:45 PM

      You are right….it was supposed to say manner…damn auto correct. Also my fault for not reading over again before hitting publish button. Lol. I’m glad you enjoyed this Tony. Much appreciation on the comments

  • September 14, 2017 at 10:51 PM

    So much emotion in this beautiful piece, Paul. It is very heart rending and soulful. It is amazing, wonderful, what love can do. Great work.

    • September 17, 2017 at 8:13 PM

      It truly is Phyllis. Thank you so much for your kind words

  • September 15, 2017 at 4:50 PM

    You sir can with your magic verse turn a situation into a very moving experience for your readers. This is the case with the sadness and poignant soulful love. The heart and soul is a very tender part of us humans, we are so fragile to it’s ups and downs. Many people fall to the depths of despair over it and some falter so badly, they end their lives over it. A broken heart is the worst feeling to ever encounter, I’ve had only one in my life and I’m thankful that I was able to recover from it and move on. I loved every verse Paul, your magic is brilliant as always my poetic friend.

    • September 17, 2017 at 8:12 PM

      Thank you so much my friend. I too have only had one broken heart as well. It was extremely painful. But then I found my healing potion and never looked back.

  • September 15, 2017 at 6:12 PM

    Broken hearts and affairs of the heart are never easy. Wonderful piece Paul…

    • September 17, 2017 at 8:12 PM

      No they are not sir. Thanks for stopping by

  • September 25, 2017 at 4:44 AM

    Another brilliant piece, pulling emotional tangles through the stringing melodies of one sweet piano. Enjoyable to the nth!

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