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.)