Charles C. Finn


Please Hear What I'M Not Saying - Poem by Charles C. Finn

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask,
a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.

I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings-
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator-an honest-to-God creator-
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.


Comments about Please Hear What I'M Not Saying by Charles C. Finn

  • (10/18/2018 10:11:00 AM)


    I first came across this poem while doing youth work in 1975. I had tucked it away in my bible for safe keeping as I had used it many time in those two year. Thank you for writing it. Yesterday I hauled it out to give to my daughters support worker, she is someone in a position to use it to do much good. I read it to her and she loved it. It is for sure one of the most beneficial tools that can be used with youth today. Thank-you and I'm glad to finally know who wrote this. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • (8/29/2018 2:54:00 AM)


    beautiful, sad, uplifting, depressing, reassuring, scary, enlightening, confusing, ME........ (Report) Reply

  • (3/18/2018 4:01:00 PM)


    I absolutely love this! It is so fitting to my life! ! Thanks to my friend for introducing this poem to me! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2018 7:45:00 AM)


    I like it (Report) Reply

  • (12/19/2015 9:21:00 AM)


    A mask is a facade we bask in. To fool or to hook, who knows. This lovely poem provokes subtly as it pokes deep, the ambivalence of poise. (Report) Reply

  • (8/17/2014 8:21:00 AM)


    I was introduced to this poem, in 6th grade, and I am 52 years old. It has always been one of my favorites. It inspired me to write, and read poetry. I think it made me a more empathetic person. (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2008 4:46:00 PM)


    Very well put.
    PH - I don't have to say more.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2008 4:04:00 PM)


    Very profound write...we all wear masks.
    Well done
    AIAB
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, June 15, 2008



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