Viewing the world through wary eyes (verse)

Rio picThe Taxonomy of Passing Faces

None of them seem capable of it.
They all appear so innocent.
Smiling, engaged in conversation.
You’d never suspect them of wrongdoing.
The terrorist they conceal within.


© 2016  Cliff Burns (All Rights Reserved)

Photo by Liam Burns


  1. Dario

    Didn’t go there. I really didn’t consider genders or race, it was just a scary thought to have – not the terrorist itself, but the fact that nowadays stranger = danger. It’s a sad reflection of the state of humanity!

  2. Cliff Burns

    Absolutely understand…however, I despise the demonization of certain peoples and religions and wanted that to be a subtext of the poem and the picture.

    We all view the world, to a greater or lesser degree, through the lens of race, not much we can do about that. But it’s when we catch ourselves generalizing, casting a wide net because of a few misguided individuals, that we have to draw the line, try to defeat or repress our inner bigot.

    This prose piece is from my STROMATA collection:


    Hard-wired to hate strangers, suspicious of evil intent. Tribalism runs deep, generations of raids and reprisals. In times of scarcity, we ate their young. Caught them in the woods like fauns. Eventually we began establishing permanent settlements, picking sites easy to defend. Ten miles was as far as the horizon reached. After that it was terra incognita. Arranged marriages, dowries of land and cattle. Priests recorded births and deaths, established bloodlines, interpreted God’s fickle will.

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