Saturday, October 29, 2011

Poetics: Echoes across generations

Bully
.......................................................Bully
Bully
.......................................................Bully
Jeremy spoke in
.......................................................spoke in
class today.......................................class today

and Rocky Balboa was a god
at nine
........................................................I am nine
when he lay Clubber Lang
out flat in the third, taking
back a bit of what was taken
from him, doing something
I couldn't
........................................................I can't
........................................................each day at recess, as
........................................................he waits, not for the first
time and...........................................time, like he did the same last
time..................................................time we were in the same class,
........................................................kindergarten, and now we are
again................................................together again in the third grade,
and each day....................................and each day
....................................................through the glass, the wolf smiles as
He waited.........................................he waits
in the bathroom for the chance
to teach me my place, at his feet
........................................................to pinch my neck in his teeth
kissing piss soaked tiles, as the
rest formed an impenetrable circle
of faces, was it pity or were they
........................................................and why does no one notice
really just, consumed with blood lust,
glad it wasn't their ass lesson
........................................................and no one listens
........................................................sure the teacher pulls him aside
........................................................muzzling him for the moment
but nothing changes......................but nothing changes except the fire
........................................................in his eyes, burning brighter
inside and i hated my weakness
almost as much as myself and all
those blind eyes that saw it all and
at night plotted ways to get even.......with ways to get even
that make Jeremy's speech in class
today, seem like a red crayola
whisper
.................................................and tonight he glared across the hall
and tonight I saw it all
.......................................................trying to make me feel small
and he saw that I saw it
................................................and felt firm fingers grip my shoulder
as I put my arm around my son
.......................................................and knew I was not
because he is not
alone...............................................alone
someone will listen...........................someone is listening

there is no reason to take back........there is no reason to take back
what WE never let get taken............what WE never let get taken


This is a performance piece, done by two poet performers. When lines appear together on the same line they are meant as an echo or to be said at the same time. In this one the lines on the left are mine, the right are my son. He did not help me write this, more than sharing his story with me of what is going on. And we will fix it together.

Lyrics from 'Jeremy' by Pearl Jam used without permission. If by chance one of them happens to read, know you are a fav and appreciate you allowing this indulgence.


Today at dVerse Poets, Claudia has laid an interesting challenge before us and don't worry it is no where near as complex as I made this. Ha. See you there at 3 PM EST to join in the 'conversation'.

84 comments:

Orang3 said...

great!

Zeba said...

This was not as easy to read as I had hoped. But I have reached the end and I am glad I did read this. :-)

kaykuala said...

Brian,
It's the same. Bullies are every where.Once you stand up to them they back off.But the support of the authorities is crucial which apparently is lacking here.Your verse here revolves around a new dimension. A twist somewhat. Great!

Hank

Brian Miller said...

i hear you zeba...the constraints of column width suck...if i had time before work i would record as i think to really get a feal for a poem like this one it has to be performed...but i am at work now and will be all morning so...

and hank, yeah we will be having a talk on monday with the school to see if we cant get to the bottom of this...

Ravenblack said...

Being picked by a bully is one of the worst things that can happen to a kid and school staff are quite powerless, if not useless when it comes to handling it. I do hope you and your son find a way to put a stop to this. If there's a legal course to get the bully's parents' attention, just do it. A bully can't be stopped until he is made to see the consequences of his actions and that he can suffer for it. All the best.

Heather said...

isn't it a shame that kids need to pick on other kids to make themselves feel better...? our children have to be hurt because of the bully's lack of self esteem!! this is a great write...enjoy the weekend....we've got 5-8 inches of snow predicted...kinda hard to pumpkin pick in the snow

Hilary said...

There's been so much talk of bullying lately.. what to do.. how to see signs of it in our kids.. etc, you'd think by now enough parents, teachers and admin would be on board to effectively help kids understand how deeply it goes. I'm sorry your son has been victimized. I hope it gets settled swiftly and without further repercussion.

manicddaily said...

Wonderful, terrible, wonderful, terrible, wonderful.

K.

ayala said...

This makes me sad and I hope that you can get it solved with the school...I wish you good luck and I hope your son is okay.

hedgewitch said...

Interesting echoing form--a horrific story, but an all too common one--no matter what you do, there seems no end to this situation, I experienced it fifty years ago, and I'm sure it goes back to the first school that ever was. Good luck with getting some resolution for your son.Look forward to see what this prompt is.

Daniel said...

The best verses are those gleaned from our own lives and are the most personal. Love this one today for several reasons.

DJan said...

Your son is so lucky to have a father like you. I know you will help him with the bully. But the fact that this is rampant in school these days distresses me.

It's a very powerful piece to read and to have it performed, it must be even more powerful. I'm glad I read it but feel very sad...

Eva Gallant said...

Very moving. And so true. Will there ever be an end to bullying?

ladyfi said...

It is the bullies who are weak - so weak and without self-confidence.

I'm so sorry your son is going through this. This needs to be sorted out - hopefully, the school has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying.

5thsister said...

a very interesting write. I would love to "see" it performed as it is suppose to be read. great subject matter for the format, as well.

Caty said...

Bullying is awful...I hope you can get it worked out with the school. Seems that so many teachers seem to ignore the problem

Pat Hatt said...

Interesting structure, never even heard or thought of this one before hmmm, the cat and Pat may have to argue a bit..haha
Bullies suck plain and simple, pick on others because they are trying to make up for what they lack
Which is brains in that overhead compartment they call a memory shack
The stained floor really made me cringe
If that's for real I'd go get a blow torch and make his eyebrow singe..haha
Hope all get resolved
and things get solved

Christine said...

I found this hard to read, my son has been bullied since grade 4, he graduates next year, it still goes on, but his wit and comebacks usually put them in their place, doesn't make it any easier though

Mrsupole said...

After grandson was bullied we put him in a karate class and he is now a JR Blackbelt after five years and the bullies leave him alone. At ten years old he is still very young but the other kids leave him alone. It also helped with his self esteem.

He is also a tutor for younger kids after school each day and is well liked. He has worked hard and hopefully he will continue on this path of helping others and I will be able to take him to Karate classes until he is an adult. He has wanted to quit at times but I tell him that he made a commitment to go as long as I would be willing to take him. It is hard because it is a year long commitment with only x-mas and New Years off. What he does not understand is that I too only get those two days off unless I am sick. I have eight more years to go for which I have to take him. I hope I can make it.

But anytime I think about quitting I just remember the bully who was trying to choke him to death, not once but twice. School was no help to protect him, so I hope I have protected him. I love my Grandson very much.

I know you will work it out too. I will be praying for you both.

God bless.

Daydreamertoo said...

Awwwww I guess your son is being bullied at school.
Chloe (my teen) used to tell me she was being bullied at school and I tried to sort it out for her and she asked me not to intervene or, I'd make it ten times worse. We moved and she went to a new school, new grade etc but there was one girl who kept on slapping Chloe, pushing, her etc etc and she'd tell Chloe, you do this or that or, blah blah. So, I told Chloe she was so much more physically stronger than she even knows that she is, and (I know I shouldn't have done it but sometimes, a bully only understands if you show like with like) I told her when this girl grabs her or goes to push her, to grab a hold of her wrists and keep hold of them, or, to push her back even harder and tell her to keep her 'effing' hands off her ever again, or, she will get worse than she's giving. The girl stepped back, amazed and said 'That hurt Chloe' from then on, she never touched Chloe again. Chloe discovered she did indeed have some 'power' of her own and she took it back.
I know this doesn't work in all instances at all and all bullying is not the same too but, kids do need to feel as if they still have some type of individual 'power' over their circumstances. Bullying is so hard to stop because it takes on many forms and sometimes what we try to prevent, with all good will, is made ten times worse for the victims. Luckily for Chloe, she didn't realise it until I told her that she is physically very strong, it helped give her confidence to fight fire with fire and (thankfully) it worked.
I've found that although schools espouse that they don't tolerate bullying, they really aren't good at putting that into practice and, what they do, do, is usually ineffective. They kids still get bullied off school grounds.
Another fabulous write from you Brian.
Hope if this is one of your sons you can put a stop to it. I hate bullies, they're usually such cowards, or, being bullied themselves. What a shame.

Kulio said...

Your help is needed huh - sometimes we have to let them work it out themselves, and sometimes we need to step in - it's hard to know when to do which thing, but I think when you step in right now, you'll feel a sense that it was exactly the right thing to do.

Cool form.

oceangirl said...

Your son is awesome. Like father like son?

JeannetteLS said...

YES. About a third of the way I went back. I read the left, then the right, and I realized how it went.

I cried and then I smiled, took my fist in that pulldown "YES" move... and was so glad you are his dad.

And I remembered too vividly the bullying, and felt what it must be to have someone who listened. Well. You know. I don't think I need say more.

Sue said...

Genius.

The poetry AND the parenting.

=)

Heaven said...

I like the format and your words synchronizing with your son's thoughts. My two children were victims of bullying but they fought back.. the first with his fists, and second one, with her words. They both know they have our love and support, so their self esteem were intact. I may not have agreed with fighting bullies with fists, but if it goes down to it, well you have to show the bullies you can't be treated like this.

Looking forward to poetics ~

nsiyer said...

Recently , a guy cheated me and when confronted - bullied me. The bastard.

Claudia said...

i love how this flows together brian..it's like your son and you are speaking with one voice..echoing and coming closer and closer together so you can hold him with your words, understanding and love so he can gain strength again..and yes - really think you should record it together with him...maybe just for the two of you..maybe just for him to remind him..

Mama Zen said...

This made me cry, Brian. I'm so glad you're there for him.

Anthony Desmond said...

This is a very powerful piece... I'm no stranger to bullying, so this got me a bit.. its heartbreaking that so many kids feel the need to bully & make others feel miserable... really wish it all would stop.

me said...

How very clever, your presentation.

"to pinch my neck in his teeth"
"a red crayola whisper"

Wow, Brian. You are brilliant. I knew you were. But you just took it up a few levels.

I'm so sorry he is struggling with this. I'm so glad you're fixing it together. I have nephews who shared with me recently about being bullied at school, and there really is no answer that I can see.

But you're right to teach him to protect what's inside him, even if what's outside gets pushed around a bit.

Fred said...

Dude, Eddie Vedder is gonna be pissed:)

Thanks for the note, I was trying to figure you some of those lines. Really liked the various references you cited in here-great job-would be cool to see performed-wink, wink, nudge, nudge lol Thanks

Anyes said...

Bullies are still here and standing up to them takes courage, the knot in my stomach while reading this reminded me even if it happened so many years ago...it is still so fresh. Deep breath :-)

somewhereamelody said...

My daughter was bullied at the end of primary school. I know how powerless a parent can feel, it is terrible.
Your son has someone to stand beside him who cares deeply which is such a gift.
A very vivid and strong poem. I could both parts clearly in my head as I read.

Sheila Moore said...

Yikes! But glad he has you for a dad. Nice piece for the prompt.

tinkwelborn said...

Nice job for the prompt...bullying.
It must be simply horrible experience -- something I missed, fortunately (we had our gangs for support).
I can feel the intimidation here....it's bothersome.
good piece...

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is just Wow! This is a topic that needs to be OUT there. I had occasion to deal with bullies at the high school where I teach, just this week. I told the bully in question that one day he would have a little boy, who would com home bruised from school. When he tells you he has been bullied, I said, will you tell him that when you were at school, you bullied little boys just like him, and that he should go back to class the next day and take his punishment like a man?

Who knows if my words made an impact, but I'm damned if I'll let a bully get away with his behaviour on my watch!

wordcoaster said...

Would love to see this performed--it's hard to get a full sense of it in written form. :)

adeeyoyo said...

Kids cam be so cruel... I hope you sort this out, Brian. Love the style you used to illustrate the echoes.

Daydreamertoo said...

And you know Brian, surrendering all ego and 'want' into just accepting and letting go, has made you so much stronger and so much more deeply connected and compassionate to everything about your life and those lives you touch now.
Maybe, that's why I enjoy reading you so much because I 'know' you've been to hell and back and, lived and learned from it all to tell the tale in the specific way that you do, too. ;)

Natasha Head said...

Brian, fantastic as always. I hope the school on your end is better prepared to deal with it than the school on mine. You've no doubt already guessed, but Eddie is a personal hero, I would hope the hero type that would be proud to have his lyrics quoted in such a piece. Best of luck to you and yours with this one...I'll keep my fingers crossed and say a prayer...unfortunately on my end, the grown-ups in the educational institutions have a rule book and political correctness about these things that binds their hands beyond reason...and see, the rant is beginning. (I may have already shared this, but in one situation, it was decided a young boy was not "ALLOWED" to actually change schools to get away from the bullying...but the school board did decide he could leave 5minutes before anyone else in his class...yup, they helped to paint his target even brighter...)

Tara Miller said...

I followed this much easier after reading your comment, love. Bullying really makes me angry-even more so when it's our own son and this is a repeat "offender". What pleases me is that he knows he can come to us with anything and know he has our love and support to help him resolve that which he cannot and should not do alone. You wrote this type of poetry well and be you would be fantastic at reading something like this.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

Leave to you to find some way draw attention in a creative way and with a song to boot. (I don't have a Post)

libithina said...

Don't believe that ~ synchronicity ~ swear I never read before ~ although coming from a different place ~ titles ~ do you stand alone ~ chills ~
'because he is not
alone...............................................alone
someone will listen...........................someone is listening

there is no reason to take back........there is no reason to take back
what WE never let get taken............what WE never let get taken' ~
No he's not alone no with you at his side ~ true words Brian ~ had to tackle this but schools supported the attacker ~ made to feel nuisance and time waster ~ despite them having a bullying policy ~ ended up having to take out of school ~ your repeat and revolve ~ suggests ~ 'what's changed' ~ Nothing ~
Brilliant as ever Brian ~
lOVED structure ~
Lib x

She Writes said...

Ugh. Hard subject. Well done. I am of the firm opinion that backing away from bullies never helps, it perpetuates the problem. Schools often have the victim not hit back and punished for retaliating, but retaliation speaks to the bully because he used to getting away with being a jerk... my 2cents.

Laurie Kolp said...

Oh how I hate bullies. And so many times the teachers think a child is coming up to tattle, so they won't listen. I've had to get involved to make things change. Good for you!

liv2write2day said...

This conjured up some memories from way back, although nothing close to this. Just subtle ways of hurting. If we carry those things our whole life, what must it be like to experience something this traumatic? Very effective presentation, Brian.

kez said...

interesting form ...about a important subject that should be taken more seriously by schools and youth carers ...hope your son and you sort it out ..

Ruthiey said...

I'm so glad he told you and knows that you're on his side. :) Pray everything works out.

zongrik said...

it would have been cool if you could have recorded this. done the wrong way, it could sound like responsive reading in church.

Mary said...

Brian, this was a strong write. It moves me greatly. I think there is a way one can record a video and imbed it. I would like to see you do this with this poem. I would like to hear your voice and the other's. Bullies, in my opinion, are the scum of the earth.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

I am glad I read this too - it is easy to forget how vulnerable school children are to bullying, and how it seems that no-one is there to stop it or even listen

Hope all goes well at the school on Monday.

Anna :o]

Nick Rolynd said...

Oh, wow. I loved the form of this. The echo element is rather haunting. Great piece!

Matthew said...

As always I come in late to read your 55 and find myself glad I got a second posting to comment on. :)

eclipsingwinter said...

Wow... I would love to hear this performed. I heard separate voices in my head as I read, both equally desperate to understand. Incredible, Brian.

Beth

WINDOWLAD said...

..Brian, this piece is a complex read of two souls’ conversation – the soul of your soul i should say... almost the feel in one of Sophocles’ play... it could actually be a piece for a declamation contest... great write.

It’s nice to link back again at dverse. Thanks!

~Kelvin

Beachanny said...

I have grappled with this subject. This is intense and really good. Your conclusion is a good one, but the fix is complex and takes so much courage and risk. The animal in us still puts members of the pack to the test, I suppose. Really excellent, Brian.

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

Amazing post!
It's sad how people get suppressed by bullies.

I loved the way the post has been written! :)

KB said...

Yes, you will fix this together.

Valerie said...

Bullies are indeed cowards. I found it difficult to follow the plot so I'm glad you put an explanation at the end. You are right, it would be better listening to the reading by two performers. Clever stuff, nevertheless.

TechnoBabe said...

As a parent it is natural to be outraged that a bully has zeroed in on your kid. For me, the style was not so hard to read, but the content was.

Lorraine said...

oh my gosh one day I know someone will not turn hi back ever

pandamoniumcat said...

Interesting write, and a subject that continues to haunt. I really like the way you've tackled the conversation and the situation you and your family find yourself in. I do hope you and your son get everything worked out...

Sally J said...

Very powerful Brian. The oddness of the poem on the page brilliantly underlined the misery of being bullied.

SueAnn said...

Powerful Brian!! It so speaks of the feeling of uselessness one feels in presence of bullies!
Loved this one
Hugs
SueAnn

California Girl said...

Brian, powerful, upsetting, sad, terrifying, loneliness personified.

Shaista said...

Wow, complex as anything, but the fact that you turned it into a dialogue is the most important aspect. So long as this particular subject is an open dialogue between parent and child, there is hope.

Zuzana said...

As you know already Brian, I have experienced being bullied as a child. Today I know the kids that did it, did it because they envied me my safe and shelter life and my privileged existence and they came from broken and poor homes. Thus at times I think they were the real victims...
From the comments I sense this is very personal for you though and for that I am sorry, but hope that my story helps...
I love they way you have presented it here and wish I could hear it being read out loud as you have envisioned it.
Sorry again for my delayed visits, hope you had a great weekend.;)
xoxo

Ed Pilolla said...

you are so clearly a special person, and the important work you do in your life is seasoned by the heat of your childhood experiences. your hand on your son is such a riveting moment in this piece. it's a rich, worthy payoff for the haunting bathroom scene. for me, you write of conquering here, without conquering in the conventional sense, which means authentic conquering, actually. there is a reason we follow you: you are a worthy guide.

Magpie said...

I guess it's wrong to say I hate bullies, but I hate bullying. I don't understand why it seems to be worse now than ever before. I hope all goes well at your son's school and that he can go to school free of fear.

The Silver Fox said...

Oh, I like that a lot!

myheartslovesongs said...

bullying has gotten more brutal, it seems, since the schools began "zero tolerance" policies. i'm glad your son can talk to you.
dani

Myrna R. said...

So much of what you write goes straight to my heart, and this one sure did. I know you'll fix it together. Good luck, blessings to you and your son.

lori said...

Oh, I could hear this in my head as you said, and this is amazing. How sweet it is that your son knows you two are in this together. It's such a horrible thing to dread school because of one person. I experienced the wrath of a couple of mean girls along the way in my day, and it was horrible. This is beautiful, Brian. It really is.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

I get angry at the bullying. I get angry at how it is handled despite all the commercials and posters and policies claiming ZERO TOLERANCE it continues....it is an evil thing...and takes MANY hostages.

yellowhousecafe said...

Lots of power, here, Brian. How hard to be a parent with this, sitting on the sidelines when you know most action will make it worse. Wouldn't it be lovely in 10 years to revisit this and hit the stage, together, to remember and remind, the bully doesn't win and the bullied do survive ~

Rebecca S. said...

Wow, that was good. The ol' human nature doesn't change, and your son is fortunate you can relate to his experience and help him through this.
Been there...not easy, but it's got to be dealt with. All the best.

Joanne said...

Wow. One of your very best, Brian. Love the story (except for the horror for your son--so sorry for his pain), love the structure. Works wonderfully. My fav line:

that make Jeremy's speech in class
today, seem like a red crayola
whisper

I have just seen, in my minds eye, what a red crayola whisper looks like, not sounds like, looks like. Thanks!

william said...

very well written by two poets, bullies are cowards, always have been always will be :)

Uneven Stephen said...

Great piece, Brian. I agree with the others that it would be awesome to hear this performed aloud. So sorry that your son has to go through this. My son hasn't started school yet, so I have never experienced this as a father (hope I never will). I'm a HUGE PJ fan as well. Thanks for sharing.

happygirl said...

I encourage you to focus on his good relationships. I'm sure you will do the right thing. :)

PattiKen said...

I had a little trouble following this since I am much more visual that auditory and just couldn't "hear" it the way it should be read. But even reading it delivered the story powerfully. I'm so sorry that bullying has touched your family. But I know you will "deal" with it.

cj Schlottman said...

This creative and strong piece captured my imagination. I am in awe of your talent. Bullying is a universal problem, and not just on the playground. It happens everywhere in the adult world. Great reminder to your readers.

Namaste..........cj

I missed the deadline for this exercise, but I posted my attempt on my poetry web page. I hope you can find time to visit.

Josh Hoyt said...

That is one of my favorite songs. I'm sorry to hear of the troubles but I like how you mention that you will fix it together. Good luck with it. It is hard to be bullied but even harder to see your kids go through it :(

Goofball said...

I hope your son is not the victim of a bully!

I hope no child will every be victim of a bully anymore


I hope "bully" can become an obsolete word