flip side

“There are 3 masks:
the one we think we are,
the one we really are,
and the one we have in common.
Neutral mask is the one we really are,
the one that allows us to take off all the other masks.
Neutral is holding the centre –
moving with grace, dignity, power, and direction.
To relax our attention into the present moment is extraordinarily simple, but for most of us, it demands a lifetime of practice.”

Jacques le Coq



i am pain

i am broken

battered sense-

less at times


by the storms life beaches

upon me


blown here and there


and dashed


washed up

and helpless




angry at the world

at those who brought me here

for what?



full of bull.




if I could just



what’s the use…


why hide this particular mask

in order to create another?


when it is this one

that paints my beauty


those trinkets of glinted dark

fossilised….core…. me….

shine out from my soul’s eye

from my eye’s eye


i am transparent

by choice


they made me

forged this human

in crucible’s

burning heart


broke the walls

like great storms do



hammered by the Gods

until i bled


and softened

i yielded


i still long for home

keening the deep loss of it

every moment


but here i have

become un-masked









i am you

no better

no worse


and this is our common mask

this human face


submission for Tuesday Platform at The Garden and for Poetics with Mish at dVerse.


45 thoughts on “flip side

    • paul scribbles says:

      That’s a really good question Alison. I think it is hard to generalise. I know some folk for who the opposite is true and there is also that perception of ‘well who gives a f…’ now that I’m this age…I can do what I want. I think it, like all things, depends upon the individual.

    • paul scribbles says:

      Thanks Kim. I was trying to get at the collective fragility that binds us rather than it sound like it was personal. Not sure I got there but it has stirred something. I’ll keep working on it.

  1. Cressida says:

    Interesting and thought provoking poem

    I think it is fairly easy to know yourself. The hard bit is not to be yourself but to spend a lifetime working on yourself to become someone better and someone you .like.
    I think most of society’s problems occur from people being self satisfied (being themselves.)We are all encouraged to be ourselves…a mistake… we should be encouraged to be the best person we can be.

    • paul scribbles says:

      I think you make an interesting point Cressida. I wonder if that ‘better’ us is there all along waiting to be found, like the yet to be sculpted statue in the block of stone. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    • paul scribbles says:

      Confession holds an implication aligned with ‘an admission of a moral or legal wrong’ for me ( ex catholic) and so I’m not sure I would use that term personally to describe this. The idea here is that we are all fragile and perhaps if we were all a little more ‘raw’ we might move forward as a community. The common mask we wear that says ‘I’m alright ‘ is the most dangerous for me.

      • Frank J. Tassone says:

        I meant confession in the poetic sense, as in the “confessional” poets like Sylvia Plath, etc. that wrote directly and honestly, rather than engage in the usual vague language common in their time. Clearly nothing you wrote could be construed as an “‘an admission of a moral or legal wrong’”. However, the confessional school has been gone for some time, so I see your point. And I agree that the mask of pretense that “we’re fine” when we’re not is the most dangerous one of all.

      • paul scribbles says:

        Hey Frank. I knew you meant it that way 😉 Just not a word that resonates for me personally because it does still contain those other meanings/implications for me. I prefer honest, authentic 😉 I think the truth I’m aiming at is that in all honesty…we’re not fine. Not at all, and that place, that crucible, is where we heal.

  2. Mish says:

    I appreciate the depth of your words and the raw emotion they evoke.
    “I am transparent by choice”….this resonates with me. Never understood why we need to hide who we are and how we feel…why we need so many masks.

  3. Magaly Guerrero says:

    I suspect our common masks look different from each other–showing smiles, sadness, roughness, meanness, love, madness, carelessness… showing all sort of faces, but the mask remains one of survival. One, that if removed, would probably show that we are a lot more of what we thought we were not. I mean, after playing at something for so long… we become.

    • paul scribbles says:

      I think the survival idea is so interesting and I suspect to some extent it could be part or wholly myth which separates us from each other. Competition instead of co-operation. Drop the mask and essentially we are all in the same place. Maybe. It’s got mew thinking though, this prompt.

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