There are smiles that we will never see.
There are kisses that will never be.
There are songs that we will never hear
For this thing that stretches, ear to ear,
Will be with us till our dying day
And I hate it more than I can say.

I think of it and my blood runs cold,
But it keeps us safe, or so we’re told
And saves us from an untimely death,
By those who lie with their every breath.

How long will we keep dancing to their call?
And so I say to one and all


And burn the stifling fetters in a pile,
And greet the Germ Gestapo with a smile.



Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.

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57 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    Thank you, Joe — this is great. I’ve had a mask poem coming to a boil in my head for weeks, but haven’t started writing it. I hate masks more than I can say, too — and also don’t see any end to this dehumanizing policy. Even when our governor’s executive orders were declared unconstitutional by our Supreme Court, she handed over enforcement to the health department! It’s infuriating.
    Anyway, about the poem — “By those who lie with their every breath” is a great irony. (So, even though the line seems to be missing a syllable, I still really like it!) “Germ Gestapo” is a phrase I’m going to start using. And, be sure to invite me to the mask-burning party — thanks!

  2. PeterHartley

    Joe – A theme that well deserves extensive airing on this site. I sincerely hope masks and their patent inefficacy WON’T be with us all “till our dying day” but very much fear they will at the rate we’re getting to grips with the virus when perhaps we should be simply letting it run its course. Ineffectual measures make it LOOK as though something is being done about it and that’s what really seems to matter. Your opening three lines are very poignant.

  3. Mike Bryant

    Germ Gestapo is exactly right. Could they be forcefully letting us know that they are in complete control of our lives… our mouths, our communication with like-minded people, and even how or whether we breathe? That is where we are being steered. The germ thing is just a warmup for everything else. When will we find ourselves completely living in the world of Dr. Zhivago?
    We have our leader. We better damn well elect him.
    Do I even have to say I love the poem?
    Well I do.

  4. M. P. Lauretta

    Wearing a face mask is a minor inconvenience; nobody likes it, but it’s done for a reason – and no, it’s not political.

    Catching or spreading Covid-19 can be fatal and many survivors are complaining of long-term effects (a.k.a. ‘long Covid’).

    Whilst wearing a mask cannot make you 100% safe (at present nothing does) it is still the most effective thing we have to reduce the risk of infection.

    Under the circumstances I see wearing a face mask as my civic duty.

    • M. P. Lauretta

      Clearly a lot of people have been brainwashed into ignoring scientific advice, choosing instead to believe the ludicrous conspiracy theories that fester within their carefully sealed disinformation bubble.

      There is nothing clever about being wilfully gaslighted.

    • Karyn Cook

      #1) If you believe in the science of masks to prevent virus transmission but do not believe in the science that proves life begins at conception, you don’t believe in science, you believe a political ideology.

      #2) Wearing a mask is not simply an inconvenience; there are serious adverse effects:
      -Rebreathing expelled carbon dioxide, raises CO2 in blood
      -Significant increase in resp and heart rate, arrhythmias
      – Decreased O2, hypoxia, confusion, lightheadedness, headaches
      – Bacteria and mold inhaled causing resp infections and foul mouth disorder
      -Worsening asthma and any resp disorders
      – Cognitive decline
      – Difficulty with psychomotor tasks

      #3) A CDC Study has shown that 85% of COVID-19 patients wore masks “always” or “often.”

      I hope you will calmly consider the above, as my reply is not meant to offend but to shed light. We cannot wear masks forever.

      • Cindy Erlandson

        I’m so glad you took the time to bring up these facts, Karyn — especially since the media doesn’t report them.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      To M.P. Lauretta —

      You post a video by a bureaucratic hack from the CDC, published by The Guardian, a notoriously left-leaning publication, and you expect all of us to bow down in slavish obedience. Robert Redfield is a careerist, and he will not say or do anything to jeopardize his position as a bigshot at the CDC, or evoke the ire of MSM or the Deep State. Or do you think all medical personnel are devoid of the vices of ambition and avarice?

      As for anyone being a “superspreader,” you can spread left-wing piety freely at other websites, Lauretta. You can’t spread it here without penalty.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Joe, I love your poem, but I’m with M.P. Lauretta on this one. This is why I wear a mask:

    1. I will radiate righteousness – such gestures will have others perceive me as moral, and morality is more important than medical evidence.

    2. The mask is symbolic of my submission to Marxist conditioning, and, as we all know (BLM/Antifa tell us so) cultural Marxism is the way to go.

    3. I want to trot along with the herd. History tells me, galloping off in the direction of freedom will be the death of me. And, if you don’t believe me, research every communist takeover. It starts with government overreach, censoring language, public shaming and humiliation, and would you believe it – shortage of toilet paper?! BE WARNED!

    4. I’m sensible enough to have spotted the signs – my mask is remaining clamped to my cowardly mug for all eternity. Joe, as a friend, I suggest you do the same.

    Yours with care,

    • M. P. Lauretta

      “Cowardly mug”?? Thanks for the insult, selfish, gullible SUPERSPREADER!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        M. P., answer me this, how can I be a SUPERSPREADER if I’m wearing a mask? Also, I called MYSELF a coward, not you. The draconian powers that be may have got me to comply with the mask mandate, however they will NEVER remove my freedom of thought. The biggest insult on this page is your inability to respect that freedom.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … M.P., please don’t drag me to Room 101 – but, if you do, and I’ve a horrible feeling you will, it’s not spiders!

      • Dave Whippman

        I am not a conspiracy theorist, and I’m not flippant about this virus. But do its dangers really justify the tremendous economic, social and psychological damage that we’re doing to our societies? MP Lauretta, you will probably say that thousands have died of Covid 19. The same goes for other diseases and hazards – and we don’t lock ourselves down for them. Joe said what more and more people are thinking.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    I stopped wearing the goddamned dhimmi mask two months ago, when it became increasingly clear that doctors and other medical personnel thought that the thing was a stupid joke, designed solely as a form of virtue-signaling. As one doctor said to me, “Nobody thinks that a crappy little facemask is going to stop the entry of a virus particle of a few microns in size. It’s all just a way to keep people scared and obedient.”

    To M.P. Lauretta — the order to wear these questionably effective masks is PURELY political. It is a pseudo-medical method to enforce public orthodoxy in an increasingly cultural Marxist environment. It sets the stage for further erosion of our freedom. Your own pious statement about “civic duty” shows how well propaganda works on some people.

    Bernard Shaw pointed out that in the London of his youth the authorities ostentatiously went about burning sulphur in the streets of the city, if the public feared the threat of widespread infection. They did this, even though they (and the entire medical profession in Harley Street) knew that it was a complete waste of time and sulphur. But they all connived in the medieval superstition that burning sulphur in the streets was some kind of protection.

  7. Jeff Eardley

    Joe, here in England, our hospitals are filling again as folk of a certain age are told to beware. I am one, as I guess are you. Your poem sums up the frustrations of all of us as this thing controls everything we do these days. The one thing that made me howl in despair recently was a local store selling designer masks MADE IN CHINA…..Arghhhhhh!!!

  8. Talbot Hook

    I don’t usually wade into comments, but this is a bit too much. Masks are not worn to protect oneself, but to keep others well. I don’t wear one around my 87-year-old grandfather for my own sake, but for his. Certainly, I hope this kind of filial love isn’t seen as kowtowing in “slavish obedience” . . .

    And the research is fairly clear on this point. (Something from the WSJ (which is right of center, by most accounts), if you care:

    • Mike Bryant

      Mr. Hook, the debate on masks is nuanced. If you are near an older person, of course you should use a mask. Any flu, or even a cold, could kill an 87 year old. Perhaps we should have already been using the N95 masks around the elderly for the last 50 years. I wonder if you are aware that the average age of everyone included in the death statistics of Covid 19 (including stabbing victims and motor vehicle accident victims) is OLDER than the average life expectancy? If you are of college age the death rate of Covid is vanishingly small. Among those that are under 18 it is even smaller. Is there a place for masks? Absolutely, however the benefits have been oversold and, at the best, according to many studies they have small benefits mostly indoors and when people are within two meters of each other. There is absolutely government overreach in requiring people to wear masks outdoors. The recent riots did not cause any spikes among the BLM or Antifa. However some Democrat states have closed down beaches. The days of reliable scientific studies are gone. This article might give you an idea about the state of “science” in our post-modern world.
      Also, the WHO has recently said that lockdowns don’t work. Will that influence the decision of the UK to lockdown again? Is it about science or politics? It all seems rather obvious.
      Thanks, Mike

  9. David Paul Behrens

    Safety First

    You ask if I wear a mask?
    It’s not such an awful task.
    So I wear it, just in case
    I run into you some place.

    I will wear a mask alright,
    When I go out, day or night.
    If I see you without one,
    I won’t walk away, I’ll run!

    Safety is my bottom line.
    I don’t care if you feel fine.
    I won’t let you breathe on me,
    Till a vaccine sets me free.

  10. Joe Tessitore

    Thoughts from Mrs. T:

    Put your money where your mouth was;
    Put your money where your mask is.

  11. Norma Okun

    Wrote a poem on the comments. It is too long to quote. I said to wear a mask or not to wear a mask, is it death or life? Or is it to Fauci when conveniently important like when warning to wear a mask and at the same time saying you don’t need one because there were not enough. Then Trumpet showing off you don’t die after all, and even with no mask, so don’t wear one. Then there is Biden who says is okay to scream and protest, who cares about masks. And all the governors who don’t oppose their own breaking of historical statues and stealing. What matters? To wear a mask or not wear a mask, can anyone be believed?

  12. Joe Tessitore

    Not long after I submitted this poem to Evan, the Hasidic community in Brooklyn burned their masks in protest.
    I have long thought that there was something unholy about masks, and apparently my Hasidic brothers and sisters agree with me.

    For those of you who raise the issue of safety, consider the words of Benjamin Franklin:

    “Those who would give up
    essential liberty to obtain
    a little temporary safety,
    deserve neither liberty nor

    Breathe free or die.

    • Mike Bryant

      Joe, I agree 100% and will add another quote that is timely.

      “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

      • Mike Bryant

        Have you even read my comments? I know what Covid 19 is. I did not say it is imaginary. I used a quote that should make people think. I hate to tell you this, but not even one of us is getting out of here alive… it is very important to protect our freedom and our children’s freedom from an overreaching state. We have been fooled too many times.

      • David Paul Behrens

        Mike – You are certainly correct about guarding against the erosion of our freedom in this country, but this is not China or North Korea. The wearing of face masks has not been ordered by the state. It is merely a recommendation and we are all free to do as we wish in that regard. Stay safe and stay free. Good luck.

      • Joe Tessitore


        “Who of you, by your worrying, can add a single hour to your life?”
        Do you believe that a mask can?

        Does the fact that Pelosi, Fauci, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Cuomo, George Stephanopoulos, and Maxine Waters have all been photographed without masks mean nothing to you, and that the governor of either Michigan or Minnesota referred to mask-wearing as theater?

        “Following the science” tells us that mask-wearing does nothing to protect us from getting the China virus; at best (since just about none of us really knows how to wear a mask), it prevents us from giving it to others.

        And yes, I do prefer to breathe free or die.

  13. Joseph S. Salemi

    David —

    Do you normally believe every statistic that is published in the papers? It is well known that the Italian health authorities deliberately inflated the death figures for Wuhan Flu in northern Italy, by insisting that every person who died from ANY bronchial or pheumonia-related illness be listed as a “COVID-19 death;” and that any persons who died after having tested positive for COVID-19 (even if they were asymptomatic, or had died in a car accident) also be included in the COVID-19 death toll.

    Is that honest? Is that “scientific”? Or is it part of deliberate plan to keep the public in a state of lock-down terror?

    Jay W. Richards and others have put together a book: “The Price of Panic: How the Tyranny of Experts Turned a Pandemic into a Catastrophe.” In the book it is related how even your precious CDC has had to backtrack on the death figures for Wuhan Flu, since in actual fact many of the supposed victims (mostly elderly) had died from co-morbidities, and not the Wuhan Flu.

    Go ahead and wear your dhimmi mask. Even if it doesn’t protect you, it will tell the Deep-State government that you are an obedient and servile follower, ready to believe anything that “experts” say or dictate.

    • C.B. Anderson


      You are a man after my own heart. I couldn’t’ve said it better. Of course, that makes us conspiracy-theorist nuts.

  14. Joe Tessitore


    I have long believed that ideology seeks to poison everything, and the medical profession is no exception.

    I’m not sure why you ask if doctors’ masks should be burned. Perhaps if a given doctor has sold his or her soul to the devil, then we won’t really have to concern ourselves with your question, will we?

    • Norma

      The purpose of the doctor wearing a mask is to rotect the patient. Nothing right now can prevent you from my cough had I had the virus and wore no mask. I would be thankful to you if you wore a mask to protect me from the virus.

      • Norma Okun

        Hi Joe, I meant to write the purpose of the doctor wearing a mask is to protect. Sorry for the typo. I am not arguing with you I am simply stating a fact. The truth might not be likeable but it is the truth.

      • Norma Okun

        Hi Joe, the mask is to protect. Sorry for the typo. I am not arguing with you I am simply stating a fact. The truth might not be likeable but it is the truth.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Norma, you are completely normal in that you take certain opinions to be certified fact. I only wish that I had a mask for my eyes, so that I were unable to read such utter drivel. Keep your faith in the “experts,” (who keep changing their minds) for otherwise this new religion will die a swift death. The only reason I ever wear a mask is that owners of private property demand that I do so before entering their premises. If you are so frail that you feel at risk with every mask-less encounter, then please hide yourself away from any normal human commerce. Joe T., as usual, is right on the mark.

      • Norma

        You call what I say drivel
        That is ignorance. If you don’t like opinions don’t give any.

  15. Mike Bryant

    One question… if masks are so effective and EVERYONE MUST wear them, please tell me why it’s OK to take them off in a restaurant while you eat and visit with friends.
    Perhaps the enforcers have part ownership in the restaurants.
    It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled” – attributed to Mark Twain

  16. David Paul Behrens

    Joseph, Mike and Joe,

    Thank you all for sharing your thought provoking viewpoints and valuable information. Apparently, there is much more to this issue than initially meets the eye. I will stay tuned. One point I would like to make, however, is that I will continue to wear a mask when mingling with other people, not because it is required by the government, of which I am skeptical, but because I feel safer. To each his own.

    • C.B. Anderson

      David Paul, I wish that “to each his own” were the motto of our authoritarian masters. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, I’ve watched the comments on this page unfold and have read your views with interest and understanding.

      I work as a church secretary and in a funeral home. Both establishments require staff to wear a mask when in contact with people. I can understand why my superiors have implemented these rules, even though the mask mandate in our county has been lifted. Many have been terrified into thinking that the mask will provide them and others a degree of protection simply because the powers that be have pushed that idea…even though, the CDC initially told us that masks would serve no purpose and latest medical evidence (evidence cited by Dr. Scott Atlas, from the CDC and the WHO and other medical bodies’ findings, has been shut down on social media). My superiors want those visiting their establishments to feel comfortable… BUT, I am absolutely livid.

      Firstly, because the politicians and the “experts” they employ have interests vested in money and politics rather than people – all the doctors on the street dealing with Covid patients are ignored or shut down if their opinion doesn’t align with the political view. There’s plenty of evidence of this if you go beyond the first few pages of a search engine.

      Secondly, because even though I wear a mask when I have to, it’s unacceptable for me to have a non-PC opinion on the matter. On this very page, I’ve been labelled a “selfish, gullible, SUPERSPREADER” for exercising robust free speech – even though I’m in a mask! That’s scary stuff.

      I have to agree with CB on this one. It’s certainly NOT “to each his own”. All choice is removed if I want employment, food, or anything else wearing a mask provides. Apparently, even if I’m in a mask, freedom of speech is also gagged.

      By the way, thank you for today’s lesson in American English. In the UK, we say “each to their own”… I’m still learning new phrases! 🙂

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        That’s why I call it the “dhimmi mask” (a phrase borrowed from the commentator Ann Barnhardt).

        A “dhimmi” is second-class citizen with limited rights in a Moslem country, who is expected to be totally unquestioning and obedient to the governmental powers if he wants to work and live.

        That’s exactly what the Deep State wants here. We have to be obedient dhimmis to the elite power-wielders who rule us. This stupid mask is only the beginning.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … and that is exactly what is bothering me – the “dhimmi mask” is only the beginning. I foresee not being able to travel unless we’re inoculated, “deplorables” being further shunned from society unless they’ve had CRT training, re-education camps if they refuse to comply etc. etc. We’re being gradually conditioned in the name of life-saving care. Where do we draw the line before all our freedoms are handed over to the government?

        If anyone out there reading this comment would like to label me a “conspiracy theorist” – please refrain. I abhor yawningly predictable knee-jerk reactions to opposing viewpoints.

  17. Yael

    Great poem Joe, I love it!
    A well rhymed and eloquently expressed train of thoughts.

    I’m with Susan though, I like to wear my mask religiously. You see, I identify as a disabled veteran and I am conditioned to serve my government with unquestioning total obedience. During my service I became partially disabled while being deployed on a nuclear submarine.
    Our vessel was protected from the high water pressures of the deep oceans by the best and most scientific screen doors that money could buy, but alas, they only protected the marine life around us and I still ended up with a boat load of water on my brain.
    After being honorably discharged I settled on a small homestead on a hillside in rural southern Appalachia where I herded swine. All went well until the dreaded swine flu pandemic drove me over the proverbial edge of the cliff and threatened to drown me again, but thank God, the free swine flu vaccine saved my day. Unfortunately for me the vaccine had a side effect of partial paralysis and I had to give up herding, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. The dreaded West Nile and Zika virus pandemics came along and struck me with the cold fear of death from mosquito bites. Being completely dependent on the mercy and provisions of visiting church mission youth groups for my survival due to my handicapped condition, I counted myself blessed when the loving and well meaning mission volunteers surrounded my entire homestead with a sturdy chain-link fence to keep the pandemic infested insects out. Now for safety’s sake and peace of mind I rarely venture out of my chain-link enclosure anymore, except once a year when I go to the health department for my free flu shot.
    Last time I got one I came down with a bad case of mercury poisoning, which the doctors assured me had nothing to do with the vaccine and was likely due to an unmasked waitress who served me a fish sandwich at Micky D’s. The mercury poisoning caused me to lose the rest of my mobility and I am now eligible for a handicapped parking sticker. As I write this I’m staying fully masked 100% of the time in order to conserve resources and save up money so I can buy a car to go with that.
    To expand my horizon I often browse internet poetry websites such as this one from my local library. I’m no poet and I know it but the other day while another library patron came too close to where I was riding my mobility scooter while enjoying a fresh order of southern fried onion rings, I spontaneously blurted out through my face mask
    “If you can smell my fart we are not far enough apart!”
    I do believe there is still hope for me,
    what do you think?

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, what a tour de force of a comment that strikes a chord with me! I see where you’re coming from and I’m hanging on your every heartfelt word… we obviously have a lot to learn from your unique experience. Masks off… sorry, hats off to you!

      • Yael

        Thank you Susan.
        Due to my farm work getting interrupted by a downpour I ducked into my little office yesterday and promptly got sucked into the unusually long comments section in response to Joe’s nicely brief poem above. Somehow the Spirit moved me and I got on a roll and couldn’t help but to do it to it:)
        Thanks to all you great poets and commentators on this website who contribute to my entertainment, I appreciate all of you.

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