Poetism Commentary: "Empty Eyes"

The poem in question: Empty Eyes

I have sat down to try and write this entry several times in the past few months, but could never figure out what to say. Tonight, I am up way past my bedtime, as usual, and decided that I had to just get through it so I could move on to other poems, about which words will hopefully come more easily.

The only thing that I can remember about writing this poem is that I wanted to write something. I needed to keep up the streak, even if the end result didn’t turn out as I hoped. I don’t remember what I was writing about then; I’m not sure that I even had anything specific in mind. Possibly I was just putting some words down that I thought could convey some message of which I was unaware. Whatever the forgotten theme, I now have a perspective that I am fairly confident I didn’t have then.

Now that I have one child and one more on the way, I often think about how I am going to teach them the things they need to know to be successful in life. My definition of successful isn’t important for this commentary; only that I want them to be it and I worry about how to help. As with any effort made to do something good, sometimes failure is inevitable, no matter how good of an effort is made toward the goal. Sometimes it happens that expectations are higher than one can reach. Sometimes mistakes are made in ignorance.

Whatever the cause may be, when failure happens, corrective steps need to be taken. This might include anything from further instruction on how to accomplish the task to simple encouraging words to try again. In an effort to teach my three-year-old daughter things, I am constantly reminded of how bright and insightful she is, while at the same time lacking knowledge of many things I take for granted, simply because she has less life experience than I do.

[Insert lame joke about my life experience here.]

Sometimes I get frustrated with constant questions of “Why?” and “How come?” and I have to bite my tongue in order not to snap something that I would regret saying. Sometimes I bite air. I try my best to show my daughter that I love her and want to help her understand why I want her to do things the way I ask her to.

[Insert lame joke about OCD here.]

I now read this poem as being about the opposite of how I want to treat failure, or missed expectations, or ignorance, or anything else. It is from the point of view of someone who has screwed up and is about to be reprimanded for his mistakes, but clearly in an unkind, borderline evil fashion.

Now that that convoluted mess has been written, a bit about the writing style.

This poem is comprised of ABAB style rhyme, which I think is cool when it works. In this case, I think there are some awkward moments, but overall it seems to flow without too much issue. In digging through my various sources, I have found a version with some variations in wording and meter. While I don’t think the version as published on the site is a masterpiece, I think it is somewhat better. The alternate (original?) version is reproduced below, and you, reader, can judge which you think is best.

I don’t think that I could ever forget
Those empty eyes staring at me.
They never held any remorse or regret,
Just cold and ruthless certainty.
The suffering that was caused by those eyes
Goes beyond your wildest belief.
I think their job was to maximize
My suffering, and never offer any relief.

I just stood there, helpless, alone,
Wondering when it would all end.
Never even a glimmer of light shone
In those eyes, while they waited for me to bend.
Finally, I just couldn’t take the pain
And suffering any longer,
And before I could even begin to explain,
I found out who was the stronger.

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