Originally Posted 4/25/2012 to the Perspectives Anthology Blog.
The Editors' picks are designed to share some of the wonderful poetry from the Perspectives Anthology with the general public. The poems displayed here are chosen not only for their power but for their importance and relationship to relevant autistic and disability issues.
While at first glance, it may seem as though "Masked Hysteria" refers to a facade used by autistics or other disabled people in order to adapt to the world around them, it's actually a rather powerful observation of how others wear a "mask" to avoid exposing who and what they are. The tendency towards uninhibited honesty (or bluntness) displayed by many with disabilities is portrayed as a welcome relief from a world of masks, paranoia, and lies. Like some others in the Perspectives series, "Masked Hysteria" actively rejects those who might seek to sympathize, instead forcing the reader to question just how much of their own life is hidden behind various masks...
~ Marc Rosen
Stanley W. Shura
I may not see your mask,
but I know that it's there
when I have to struggle so ever hard and long -
longer than convention or trite manners allow -
to see YOU.
I labor to overcome your labored illusion
to see what's behind it,
from my deaf eyes.
I pain to transcend
your ulterior exterior.
I have no qualms
with the meek who bear arms.
These shields being not prestidigitation
these that are borne out of fear and uncertainty.
These are infinite and eternal:
they come from before the beginning,
they extend beyond the end.
These are crystal clear:
their honesty IS their flesh!
But those disguises worn
in vain and petty slight of hand,
for gain, that others should embrace
a false and transitory face,
do so that they can spin lies afresh.
These that are a feigned and shallow modest,
these that cry their own opaque and crocodile tears,
they are worth nothing in the exchange.
It is a false intercourse, with or without words.
But a lingual offering is at least concrete and impeachable.
And, I have no qualms with those who are of the stuff
to speak up and speak true.
But alas, then the mask is essentially dissolved.
Yet as for those who would so labor still to masquerade,
it is for naught as now it is the farce rendered so mute.
These masks are just opaque enough
to render them, though indistinguishable,
alas not quite invisible.
And so the silence is likewise transitory,
as we who listen most and hardest know.
An articulated front eventually becomes
not a front at all, but such an enigma.
And this is okay, for with my faithful ears I do not fear.
For although we listeners' eyes are deaf to your masks' stigma,
the truth does speak, and we hear it loud and clear.