August 1, 2018

By Michael Stanton


I sit with twiddling thumbs,

Always wondering if it’s done.

What more could I add?

Is its countenance too sad?

I rub my thumb over the scar on the left cheek,

That fake story about the fall I had that one week.

I look over at the perpetual smile;

The real one only lasts for a little while,

Then it fades away under the mask,

But no one knows of the meaningless task.

The outside is so pristine,

The inside is far too mean.

It scratches my real face and calls it revolting.

“No one wants to see the real you,” it calls out, taunting.

I look at the eyes where no tears are falling,

But those eyes don’t care if their brothers are calling

For help…

The ears on this mask are so empty and cannot hear;

They cannot hear the sounds that I love for fear

That someone may think poorly of the fake me,

That someone might actually see

I am not the same every day.

That there are times when I wish to say

The words that are in my heart,

Those words that may sting like a dart.

I pray that they are not my words only

But that they come from the One who is holy.

But how can I speak words so pure

Through a mouth that is never sure.

The words become a muffled mess when I speak

Through the cracks in this mask so weak.

I want to see with my real eyes,

I want to cry when someone dies,

I want to hear with my real ears,

I want to know the words of the one I hold dear,

I want to laugh with my own lips,

I want to stop speaking words that rip.

The flesh off the bones,

They tear like a dog whose stomach moans.

Fill me, God, with Your living food;

Let not my actions be decided according to my mood.

This mask that I have constructed out of fear

Has heavy chains and bonds; now please hear

My cry for mercy. Please take it away,

Cast it into Your holy fire. This I pray:

No more mask,

No more heavy task,

Just Your love,

Your spirit like a dove,

Your peace like a river,

Your shield to counter the quiver

Of the enemy who seeks to devour.

But he will be destroyed in the last hour,

So to You, Oh God, I lift my voice.

No more chains; it’s by my choice.

You see my face, and still You love me;

I just had to take off the mask to really see.


Note: This poem was originally written in January of 2010 as a way to process emotions and frustrations and recenter my focus on God. My hope is that others can see it and be inspired to do the same in their lives.


Michael Stanton is a storyteller. Though this has taken him on many paths and into various occupations, the evocative power of story has been at the heart of it all. Currently he works as a Visual Communications Designer, where he gets to craft visuals and written content that tell the story of the company. But Michael finds that the most important story we all write is that of the redeeming power of God acting through our lives every day.


  1. Clarissa Ruth

    This is a truly powerful piece, Michael. Thank you for sharing your poetry, and a glimpse of the real you, with us. It always takes guts to remove the mask. Thanks for showing us how and leading the way.

    • Michael Stanton

      Hard, but always worth doing. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Serenity

    WOW. Just WOW.
    I love the truth and clarity in this work; it is so true to life.
    I am so inspired by this and hope that you can continue to inspire with your work! I know its so hard to take off the mask and show the true you; I struggle with showing any real emotion. Thank you so much for showing the real you here. It is clean and clear and beautiful.

    • Michael Stanton

      Thanks so much! It’s strange that so much of what we do is calculated for some vague idea of what we want others to see. I still struggle daily even with people closest to me. I think everyone would benefit if we just accept that we are continually becoming what God is creating us to be, and learn to have grace and patience for each other’s quirks.

  3. Susan Stanton

    I remember this poem! You are such a beautiful person, son. I am so proud of you and I am thankful and blessed to have a son like you! Love, Mom

  4. Sarah

    Thank you Michael for this piece. I really connected with your poem.


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