the false face

because of wholeness
I will rattle the corners of your house
chasing tears with tobacco

paint this wood face red
& smiling big,
feed its pain ashes & corn

like everything else
this loses power
in translation

the face I wear is false
but never spoke a lie.
it just means something else
now, more curiosity
than magic

a decoration & spirit-
less, the way our women
turn gracefully
through smoke dances

that were once war patterns,
tamed nowΒ to small steps
judged by skill

***To understand this one, you might have to ask a Seneca to explain the False Face Society. Β Or ask me.

Iroquois false face mask

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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31 Responses to the false face

  1. boomiebol says:

    Perhaps of hypocrisy and keeping up appearances ?!? I like it all the same… That face looks scary lol

  2. Green Speck says:

    “chasing tears with tobacco” your poems are just too unique !!!

  3. janehewey says:

    wonderful dramatic effects in this, Susan. “feed its pain ashes and corn” “war patterns, tamed now” I wonder if any of us wears our healer-face all of the time.

  4. Is every face not false? Just thinking! Now I ask you! I have always wondered at the genesis of dance steps back home – are they remnants from enactments of rituals from a past age whose meanings are now fading in translation and transition or are they imitations of motions we make in private and which are then translated in modfified and acceptable forms for the public domain? πŸ˜‰

    • Hahaha! Love your comments on dancing. Now, she says, straightening her collar and wiping the smile from her face–the origin of the “smoke dance” was a gentler variation on the “war dance” for the Iroquois–they use the smoke dance now for display and competition. As they have not warred with anyone in years, the closest one gets to seeing that is the smoke dance…sigh…not that I’d be allowed to see a war dance anyway πŸ˜‰

  5. through smoke dances

    that were once war patterns,
    tamed now to small steps
    judged by skill

    how did Oscar Wilde define dancing? *** still scratching my head and trying to remember!

  6. ruleofstupid says:

    Ode to an Iroquois mask

    In life I was a warrior
    I would bravely hunt the herd
    So imagine my embarrassment
    That I died this way
    And they embalmed my face
    As I pushed out a stubborn turd

    Sorry – having an irreverent day πŸ˜€

    • Yes, it DOES look like that spirit was captured in a moment of ectoplasmic constipation, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, this guy was the prettiest I could find…

      • ruleofstupid says:

        Perhaps now you’ve read my post you’ll understand the generally blasphemous mood!
        I did love the poem, but I hope you take that for granted and I can be mischievous instead πŸ˜‰

        • Mike–If you ever stop being the irreverently charming guy thumbing his nose at the sun (and no you can’t have it, I just made that up and I am going to use that image, ha ha ha!) and making me laugh, I will be truly offended.

          It’s all part of the panda magic…and I never take for granted that anyone would like my doggerel, so thank you!

  7. mobius faith says:

    I really enjoy this poem and am fascinated by the False Face Soc. Excellent connection.

  8. Reminds me of Jesus cursing the fig tree– it was all false advertisements — no fruit! Shallow! You’re a heroine ! xo

  9. I find this evocative, Susan

  10. nelle says:

    Both clever and insightful. Love such.

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