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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry for the Mind's Joy > Winning Poem: TROUBLED EYES
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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

I can not let you look into my eyes,
for you will see how I sigh.
          I can not let you see my hurt and pain
          through the years I have gained.
                    If you look at me
                    I’ll look away, because I CAN NOT let you see.
                              I can not let you see what I truly feel
                              all the hurt and pain that my eyes reveal.
                                   Don’t look directly at my face,
                                   because I don’t want you to figure out a single trace.
                                             I don’t want you to trace back to my childhood fears.
                                             The violation that me in tears.
                                                       I don’t want you to trace the ridicule that left
                                                       me scarred.
          I never understood why I had it so hard.
I can not let you look into my eyes, for you will see a lot.
This reflection in the mirror is it pretty?  NOT
          I must learn to appreciate this person and put this to an end.
          But where oh where do I begin?
                    These eyes will tell it all;
                    from the large details to the small.
                              Now!  Do you see why I can not let you look at me?

Wor-Wic Community College, Salisbury, MD
Faculty Contact: Dr. Elinor Cubbage, Professor of English