Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bullied into Commission

I was going to post first day of school pictures from Tuesday, September 5, but I left the camera at work (along with my housekeys - it was one of those days), so those'll have to wait.

What you get instead is an original poem, freshly clipped from the branches of my brain stem. This was written last Thursday at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, while Jolee was in a "Ridge Girls" writing group and Shayna was retrieving as many books on baseball as she could find in the stacks (and, disturbingly out-of-place, a book on gun safety). None of this is important to the poem, or it is; but it's interesting, or it's not.

BULLIED INTO COMMISSION

The blank page taunts me like
a bully in the schoolyard.
Bright whiteness
like an unchained rage.

I know nothing but the flailing fists,
the empty lines beating me down,
the sting of papercuts
and gravel in my freshly-flayed flesh.

The words are beaten out of me,
my pockets rifled of linty similes.
The sun blazes in reddened eyes,
blinking back tears.

The blank page ceases to be clean,
filling reluctantly with fragments
that ache from recent bruising.

The lines strengthen with their own resolve.
The victim looks past, ever wondering
(ever wordening)
dreading the next schoolyard,
the next blank page,
the next victory
in the throes of defeat.

[Copyright © 2006 William Dickenson Cohen. All rights reserved.]

2 comments:

Benjie516 said...

If it was a bully in the schoolyard, did it call you "haole boy"?

Oxypoet said...

Funny you should mention that. Here's a poem I wrote in the mid 90's:

HAOLE BOY BLUES

In that paradise called Hawai'i,
before the age of ten,
I was beaten up more times
than I could count
just cuz I was one haole boy,
an' no get no addah haoles
'roun 'fo peek on, eh?

Private school only helped a little,
I didn't have to worry about
the public schools' traditional
"kill haole day."
But there were still poundings
at recess and after classes.
I usually sprinted home,
hoping the bullies wouldn't catch me
by Ala Wai Park.

When they did, they would kneel
on my chest and administer
what they called "Jap-slaps,"
striking my cheeks
with quick, open-handed blows.
They would laugh and taunt me:
"How you li' dat,
stoopid haole?
Watchu go cry foah?
Stop yo' wailing
bombai I go
buss you up real good!"

But I would only scream louder
'till they let me go,
tears streaming down my face,
hanna-badda dripping from my nose,
cursing the day mom brought me
to this terrible island.

I never realized then, that,
on the mainland
there were bullies too.
And it would have been the same
except no one would call me one haole boy
and chase me barefoot
through warm tropical rain.

Copyright © 1997 William Dickenson Cohen. All rights reserved