War Paint – Poem

War Paint

My sister never washed her face at night.
My grandmother smoothed cold cream
over hers in dutiful faith the makeup
would slide off like dirt on a screendoor
during rain. When I was twelve my father
grew a silver beard, unmatched
to his coal gray hair. My sister’s eyes
always rimmed in black, balls of tar
in the corners like that
of the family cat. Grandmother’s face
smeared with Vaseline – she must
have collected particles of dust in the creases
during sleep. Father shaving it off
when he saw himself in the Christmas pictures
that year. My mother never loved
the mirror, expressed disgust at its faces as if
she were opening the door to discover
the visitor, an enemy neighbor.

17 thoughts on “War Paint – Poem

  1. Oh I do admire your visual sensibility. Both in word and literal image too. And I’m more than pleased if any prompt leads you somewhere you wanna say (no rules about being otherwise!). I like your result. And yes, images need not explain, pretend at more than they are – it is, we are, more than enough I think. Like a thirst that’s quenched, what more need be said? Glad to have read your poem this morning! Very ripe.


  2. The idea of all these cosmetic experiments and mishaps matched with the word “War” is really interesting… and you could still consider this fingers/hands-related. The action of the hands to the face. And as everyone else is saying, the mother at the end is an excellent twist; the photo at the end is an excellent photo.

  3. A captivating poem, though I can’t really pinpoint why. The idea of war paint, makeup is an interesting subject, and here it seems to go with the idea of smearing. Welcome back.

  4. I like the “somewhere else” that the prompt led you too. We all wear masks, don’t we? And what does what we do with our faces say about the person inside and his/her state of mind? I confess that I’m like your sister in the poem — have a love affair with black eyeliner.


    • I was kind of exploring that idea, yeah – it started with painting our faces and just grew from there. What we leave on, what we wash away, what we wish we could remove…(and I love my black eyeliner too)

    • LOL – I totally mis-read your comment. I thought you mean you knew me personally when you said “I’ve known you from real life,” and I was thinking WTF kind of stalker is this?! Then I realized it was Real Life Wigs, LOL!! Sure,you can link to whatever you’d like. I’ve stopped by your blog too, and it’s great!

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