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  • NYS Writers Institute

Poetry Friday: A poem titled "Mask"


By Cheryl A. Rice

Cowboy, Ninja, Terrorist - you can play any role you like in your fashion mask of choice. The interwebs are flooded with ads, your favorite band, TV show, cartoon persona quickly printed on a nylon sling contoured to enclose your jaw, your mouth, the all-important nose, source of all knowledge of this vine-ripened disease. I hesitate to commemorate the trend, don’t think of it as fashion, but a horror show with no finale, necessary evil, like soap or daylight. The calendar and my inked-in plans mocks me from above a desk I may never see again. I hover over a laptop, perform a mockery of my former tasks, wear a mask myself of despair, confusion, pause. 

By Cheryl A. Rice © 2020 All rights reserved. Previously published in the New York State Writers Institute's Trolley journal.

Cheryl A. Rice’s work has appeared in Baltimore Review, Chronogram, Florida Review,  Home Planet News, Mangrove, Metroland, Poughkeepsie Journal, The Temple, Woodstock Times, and in the anthologies Wildflowers, Vol. II (2002: Shivastan Publishing), Riverine (2007: Codhill Press) and For Enid, With Love (2010: NYQuarterly).

She is the author of A Thousand Candy Vaginas: Poems 1989-1995 (1997, Palaver Press), Aleums (1999, Flying Monkey Press), Egypt (2001, Flying Monkey Press), Nobody Slept Last Night (2003, Another Poor Bastard Productions, CD), Auction (2004, Flying Monkey Press; 2nd edition 2010), Girl Poet (2007, Flying Monkey Productions, CD), Roses: three poems (2011, Flying Monkey Press), and Outside (2011, Flying Monkey Press).

Founder and host of the Sylvia Plath Bake-Off, Cheryl has held her "Random Writing" workshops throughout the Hudson Valley, where she has lived for more than 30 years, after growing up on Long Island. You can read more of her words at and on her blog at


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