When Innocence Averts Her Eyes

when innocence averts her eyes
the ghost of war is on the prowl
it taunts; it shatters loving bones
stench in its wake, rotten and foul

the rivers red and bled to death
when innocence averts her eyes,
when tortured soul claws at the sky
humanity limps, in disguise

to children’s wails and ripping guns
destruction’s horrid fist does rule
when innocence averts her eyes
hope lost – abandoned; fallen fool

we only see when we don’t run
so easy to ignore the cries
turn off the TV, go to sleep…
and innocence averts her eyes.


The Face of War (Salvador Dalí)

Gay over at dVerse Poets Pub has us experimenting with a French form of poetry – the Quatern. Not that easy to build, but I tried… this is what I came up with. Come join us at the bar!

photo credits: google image search


90 thoughts on “When Innocence Averts Her Eyes

  1. oh wicked good…your first stanza just jumps like a smack in the face to get attention…and so true in how we avert our eyes as well to what is going on and pretend until it is us you know…perfect pic too….very nice…

  2. Excellent – the form is perfect but this poem transcends form or the poetic devices of alliteration, personification, rhythm and rhyme (although it does each of these things perfectly) but this poem elegantly and forcefully makes a plea for courage, for willingness to see, act and change. A truly great poem!

  3. Miriam–I agree with Gay here–there is greatness in this–so beautifully said and balanced with hard truths. You said I made you cry–well this one teared me up–so much more than a form exercise here–totally love it.

  4. When innosence averts her eyes. What a classic line. I should have just read your poem first and then wrote, “What she said.” Excellente job. I so love reading work from one who is so passionate about it. Thank you!

  5. This is a wake up call to not turn away…and pretend this ugliness does not exist. Chilling and merciless in your description of the agony inflicted…to look and see what is can bring about change. Excellent, Miriam.

  6. Ouch! Feeling the genuine power in this one – so very, very true – love the way it begins, attaching blame to the abstract – then tightens the guilt-noose at the end – and so correctly – I, the reader must share a part of the blame!

  7. Yes- a wonderful poem. Very vivid imagery and description. I have some quibble with the refrain – but I’m not sure what I think–but my issue is that I’m not sure that it’s innocence that averts eyes = as I think innocence gets her eyes wide open – as attention or our better angels or even perhaps experience that averts her eyes. Something that knows or should know better, but just looks away instead of taking action.

    And yet at the end of your poem you seem to go to a U.S. type of perspective where we are at a distance from a certain amount of suffering, and there is definitely a kind of naivete that can exist as to the wider world — so maybe innocence does characterize it. It is a very generous characterization though. Still the poem works very well. (I’m sure this is my own bugaboo about these things.) k.

    • innocence, in this poem, is a bit sarcastically used. we, as a whole, claim to be innocent and good people, where we all know too well that we’re guilty of looking away – at least most of us.
      maybe i should have put innocence in quotes to make the sarcasm a bit clearer, but i liked it better this way… gives more room for interpretation.
      thank you for your great comment, k. much appreciated.

      • Yes, that makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks. I think putting it in quotes all the way through would likely be a bit much, but in one or two places, or in italics in one or two places — Such an ostrich mentality all around.. It is crazy-making.

      • it is, isn’t it?!
        have to say though, i’m glad i didn’t put it in italics or quotes – if i had, i would have missed out on your wonderful input. thank you for this! i really appreciate you taking the time to reflect on my words in such a great way.

  8. ‘we only see when we don’t run’…..grabbed me by the throat and shook the living apathy out of me. Your words hit a cord. ‘Evil prevails when good men fail to act’ Another Wandering Soul – that’s poetry in itself.

  9. Absolute goose bumps! Chilling and riveting! And Dali!!!! Oh my…could not have asked for more from this visit…outstanding! 🙂 My day has just been made! If one ever needed an example of “haunting refrain”…loved it

  10. ..oh..this is hauntingly beautiful… tight and scary how violence moves in different shapes and eat much of one’s innocence… i really like your Quatern…you seemed very at ease with this form.. great write.. smiles…

  11. popular piece… I usually am not attracted to anything dark, but you have done a tasteful write on this subject and also encouraged your reader to really think about things… good job

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