Green Hills Literary Lantern



The Mask




Carrying too much at once,

I knocked my son’s ceramic mask

of himself—the triumph of his first grade art—

off the hallway wall where it had hung on proud display.


That’s all right, Dad, he said,

cradling pieces of his likeness in his small,

talented hands, already in third grade and casual

about his accomplishments, certain of those to come.


But the whole next day

I spent sorting shards and squeezing glue

at the kitchen table—while my two boys drew superheroes

and their mother quietly cooked—until the mask was finally restored


to its original likeness—though

now lined as if aged, careworn, bitter, trapped;

as if I’d reworked a cheerful self-portrait into a brooding mask

of myself—I understood as I looked up to my wife and sons—without them.



Mark Belair is a drummer and percussionist based in New York City. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Distillery, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mudfish, Slipstream, The South Carolina Review, and The Sun. His poem, “The Word,” was nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize and his chapbook collection, Walk With Me, has been accepted for publication by Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. For further information, visit