It is no secret to those who know me that my youth was marred by experiences of bullying. It is obvious to most that these experiences have shaped me in many ways. It was not clear to me the extent to which those long-ago experiences have wired me in certain ways.
So I watched the piece above and was transported away in that fantastic way only great art can. It was a difficult journey. It was hard to watch. It was enraging to listen.
For those who grew up on the top of the pile, I’m sure the video elicited sympathy. Yet for me it dredged up the toxic waste of the fallout of the daily bombings. A comic cliché, the lake-monster who wades out of the depths and snares innocent kids playing by the water’s edge, arose from the stagnant stench remaining at the bottom of my heart.
The tragic creature of accident clawed out and claimed life. It was deeply satisfying.
Yet the poem disappointed me. The enraged monster becomes a stunted goblin, embarrassing and distracting as the poet insists that I believed “they were wrong”.
but I want to tell them
that all of this shit
is just debris
leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
we used to be
and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
get a better mirror
look a little closer
stare a little longer
because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit
you built a cast around your broken heart
and signed it yourself
you signed it
“they were wrong”
Like a small boy standing amongst men, I look up and hear the words without understanding.
They’re telling the tales of how they made it through the War. I am a spectre who never made it through School. I was carried out on a stretcher with a sheet over my face.
So I hope Shane will forgive the poltergeist fury I feel at his words. Asking the child who died weekly deaths on a locker-room floor to look harder into a mirror which casts no reflection is the unwelcome reminder of what didn’t change in the years since.
I didn’t build a cast around my heart with the words “they were wrong”
I am the filthy urchin who scrawls on the cracked stone in blood-red,
THEY ARE RIGHT.
My degree from U of We Made It never came through.
And I laugh and smile with the Graduates, dressed in my robe which covers pasty-flabby naked flesh.
And I think in my head,
Good God, you learned from this? I didn’t even survive.