Is this a werewolf’s trick, or witch’s treat?
A devil’s joke? Humanity’s defeat?
Who would have thought we’d live to see the day
When people would freak out to see a face—
A friendly human face—in public places?
Mouths and noses never seemed risque
Till now: they’re monstrous—threatening—a disgrace.
What’s happened to the courteous commonplaces
Of social discourse? Anti-social distance
Has canceled handshakes. What was once polite
(“Hello, how are you?” “Back up!” “Sorry I asked.”)
Is seen as rude. No closeness must be risked.
We’re warned to fear an open countenance,
Or spoken words unmuffled. What was right
Is evil now—so smiles must be masked.
When greetings in the market are a blunder,
Civil civilization is six feet under.

We’ve veiled (by choice) our faces once a year.
Now tyrants force us, every day, to wear
Dehumanizing disguises meant to scare
Us into needless, never-ending fear.

I think I’ll dress up as myself this year.



Cynthia Erlandson is a poet and fitness professional living in Royal Oak, Michigan.  She has had poems published in First Things, Modern Age, Measure Journal, Anglican Theological Review, The North American Anglican, Forward in Christ, and the Anthologies The Slumbering Host (ed. Clinton Collister), and A Widening Light, (ed. Luci Shaw)

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21 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    This is as comprehensive a statement about our dehumanization as can be written.
    God bless you for this, Cynthia.

    Your closing line is simply brilliant.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Thank you very much, Joe. “Dehumanizing” was the word that came to me very early on when our Brave New World culture took away our freedom to show our faces.

  2. Theresa Rodriguez

    I agree with Joe, “Dehumanizing disguises” is so true. This poem captures our current predicament and frustrations perfectly. Well done, Cynthia!

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Thank you, Theresa. I’m grateful for your comment, and for your poem, too.

  3. Sarban Bhattacharya

    The ‘unnatural’ has taken over the ‘natural’; what was erewhile right, is now wrong. The CCP pandemic has demonised human values of kindness, compassion, geniality, camaraderie and faith in humanity. The mask is a figurative suppression of the free will.
    Well done, Cynthia. This is the poem that Halloween 2020 craved for.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Thank you so much, Sarban. I think you are right — it is as if “they” are trying to make us into less civilized beings. The sinister sense the mask gives me, makes me wonder how people have given in so easily. Does it sound arrogant to say that we poets may be able to “see” things like this, that others can’t “see”?

      • Sarban Bhattacharya

        If speaking the truth is ‘arrogance’ , then we will be happy to embrace it. As for ‘seeing things’ as they are, your words reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen’s Emperor’s clothes, which were invisible to laymen. Covid-19 pandemic is more of a political crisis than a medical crisis. Everyone knows there’s a big conspiracy looming large on humanity and an invisible Covid Empire ( comparable to the Emperor’s invisible clothes?), but no one ( especially the so-called progressives who behave like doctors and proclaim Covid as the most fatal disease in the history of mankind) dares to blurt out the obvious machinations behind this pandemic, the greatest conspiracy we have ever seen, or for that matter, the most heinous methodical backstabbing during a modern cold war. So, yes, ‘seeing things’ matters, and as long as poets like you can ‘see’ things and write about them fearlessly, as you did today, humanity should not lose hope about a possible rejuvenation.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Sarban, thank you so much for your second comment, about The Emporor’s New Clothes. I think that’s a brilliant analogy. Maybe you can write a poem along that line. I’ve tried to explain this to people with a “covid curtain” analogy (which I’m sure has been thought of by many people), in which covid (though of course it’s real) is the curtain behind which many much worse evils, like tyranny, are being hidden.

  4. Sally Cook

    Dear Cynthia –
    This didn’t just happen overnight. We have been carefully conditioned to be docile, guilty, and unpatriotic. What is this thing about “hate” speech?
    We used to have a sense of humor. Now we hardly have comics; we have liberals who get their laughs from attacking what used to be thought of as mnainstream ideas.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    It’s becoming clearer every day that the dhimmi mask serves no real medical purpose, but is part of a larger political agenda to condition the population to OBEY DEEP-STATE ORDERS UNTHINKINGLY.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Cynthia, I am sure many discerning people will relate to the message of your considered and admirably wrought poem. For me, your second stanza together with the hard-hitting ultimate line says it all. Your word “choice” rings out loud and clear… none of us have that luxury in today’s draconian society. I am hoping the result of this election will turn that around. Thank you and very well done, indeed!

    • Dave Whippman

      You’re right Susan. This clever poem struck a chord with me: I recently posted a piece on a facebook writers’ group, suggesting that lockdowns etc may in the long term be doing more damage than the virus itself. Most of the people who responded actually agreed with me; but I was amazed by the vitriol of those who disagreed. If Joseph is correct, and there’s a deep state agenda, a lot of people would actually willingly trade their freedom for the illusion of complete safety.

  7. C.B. Anderson

    O TEMPORA! O MORES! You nailed it, Cynthia. I did wonder, however, why you put what seems to be an extra foot in the last line of the first stanza. If you had written:

    Civil civilization’s six feet under. (trochee-trochee-iamb-iamb-iamb (with a feminine end rhyme))

    Then the line would conform with most of the other lines. Not that it must — but such an easy fix!

  8. David Watt

    Cynthia, you’ve hit the nail on the head with this poem. I can’t get over the number of people wearing masks in an environment where we don’t even have any current cases. I’ll take your sage advice and continue to dress up as myself.

    • Cindy Erlandson

      Thank you so much, David. One day we will all have a mask burning party.


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