a poem

By James Riley


With gleeful laughs and frozen faces,

Happy children to my classroom came;

Costumes, excitement, candy and treats,

They looked different, yet seemed the same.


They all were something original,

Gruesome warrior or pretty maid;

Witches, bums and bag ladies too,

Uninhibited and unafraid.


Each child knew they were special,

As they scampered in mock fright;

Acceptance reigned within them,

They belonged on Halloween night.


But when the celebration is over,

If one peered closely inside,

Would another mask be unveiled,

A timid youth who wished to hide?


Inside they may feel all alone,

A clever mask they hide behind;

No one sees the tears that flow,

Nor feels the pain or hears their whine.


They long for one who loves them,

Undermining their self-made jail;

Still creating a parade of masks,

When pretentions begin to fail.


Underneath there dwells confusions,

Born in isolation and in fear;

They desire another’s gentle touch,

A caring heartbeat to be near.


Intently listen and try to hear,

Acceptance will set them free;

A bond is needed for them to share,

Behind the mask a child you’ll see.


Remember the child of Halloween,

Who scurried about in mock fear;

Understand that for many of them,

The masks stay on all year.