Photography © Chad Parenteau


We Wear the Mask: An Update

with gratitude to Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask, so read our eyes.
Our lips are lost behind disguise,
for fabric hides the grin, the smile—
our noses too unless we’re vile.
Our muzzled mouths, our feeble tries

at clarity, to vocalize
our syllables, to customize
the volume, not our normal style:
we wear the mask.

Oh, how we’d love to exorcise
the virus from our lives, our cries
of joy unbound from cloth’s thick pile!
Till then let’s not be infantile.
Because we want to greet the skies,
we wear the mask.


Scott Wiggerman is a New Mexico author of three books of poetry, Leaf and Beak: Sonnets, Presence, and Vegetables and Other Relationships; and the editor of several volumes, including Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Bearing the Mask, and 22 Poems and a Prayer for El Paso. His love of form shows in a series of abecedarian “sonnets” he wrote this past summer, also in response to the epidemic.

Chad Parenteau is Associate Editor of Oddball Magazine.