Lost in a Masquerade

"Fair Use"

by Peter Lehmann

This fine poem is about roles and the masks we wear while playing them. It's also about alienation from ourselves and from others as a result of playing these roles and pretending to be someone other than who we "are"...our "authentic/core" self. It is truly an inspirational piece of writing by Peter Lehmann...

Lost in a Masquerade
Celestial Arts
1974



Donít be fooled by me,
Donít be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a thousand masks
That Iím afraid to take offó
And none of them is me.

Pretending is an art
That is second nature to me,
For Godís sake, donít be fooled.

I give the impression that I am secure,
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
Within as well as without;
That confidence is my name
And coolness my game.

That the water is calm and I am in command,
And that I need no one.
But donít believe me, please.
My surface may seem smooth
But my surface is a mask.

Beneath this lies no complacence;
In this dwells the real me
In confusion, in fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this,
I donít want anyone to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weakness
And the fear of being exposed.
That is why I frantically create a mask to hide behindó

A nonchalant, sophisticated facade
To help me pretend,
To shield me from the glance that knows.
Butó

Such a glance is precisely my salvation,
My only salvation,
And I know it;
That is, if it in followed by acceptance, by love.
It is the only thing that will assure me
Of what I canít assure myselfó
That I am worth something.
But I donít tell you this.
I donít dare.
Iím afraid to.

I am afraid
That your glance
Will not be followed by acceptance and love.
I am afraid
That you will think less of me,
That you will laugh at me.
And your laugh will kill me.

I am afraid
That deep done I am nothing,
That I am no good,
And that you will see this and reject me.

So, I play my game, my desperate game,
With a facade of assurance without,
And a trembling child within.
And so begins the parade of masks,
And my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you
In the suave tones of surface talk.

I tell you everything of what is really
nothing,
And nothing of what is really everything,
Of what is crying within me.
So, when I am going through my routine,
Do not be fooled by what I am saying,
By what I would like to be able to say
What for survival I need to say
But what I canít say.

I dislike hiding, honestly.
I dislike the superficial game I play.
I like to be spontaneous and genuine.

But youíve got to help me.
Youíve got to hold out your band,
Even when itís the last thing that I seem
to want.

Only you can wipe away from my eyes
The blank stare of breathing death.

Only you
can call me into aliveness.
Each time you are kind and gentle and
encouraging,
Each time you try to understand
Because you really care,
My heart begins to grow wings,
very feeble wings,
But wings.

With your sensitivity and sympathy
And power of understanding
You can breathe life into me---
I want you to know that.

I want you to know how important you are
to me,
How you can be the creator of the person
That is me
If you choose to.

Please choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind
which I tremble.
You alone
Can remove my mask.
You alone
Can release me
From my shadow world of panic and uncertainty.
From my lonely person.
Donít pass me byó Please do not pass me by.

It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness
builds strong walls.
The closer you come to me
The more blindly I strike back.
I fight the very thing
I cry out for.

But I am told that love is stronger than walls
And in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down these walls with firm hands
But with gentle hands,
For I am very sensitive.

ďWho am I?Ē

I am someone you know very well.

I am every man you meet,

I am every woman you meet.

I am---you.