The reader

The slight figure only stooped to hide,
The bullies of life always found him.
Taunting, insulting, pummeling abuse,
The learned behavior of mom and dad.

The child tried never to go far
Selecting the shortest distance of exposure
To the scalding eyes of school yard vultures,
The carrion feeders of the sand box.

It mattered not what age they were,
The odor of vulnerability attached to his skin
Attracted them as much as the bruises and scars
Decorating his beautiful inner being.

Pimple face, skinny shit, mommies boy,
Dumb ass, weak freak, girl boy, queer bait –
Words yelled, the sting worse than a whip,
Tearing at the heart of this small child.

The years passed him leaving him alone
Carrying the bruises as sores unhealed.
Still he chooses the shortest path to his safe haven,
A hovel, a room above a beer joint on a busy street.

Sixty years later the bullies were still there,
Now the street merchants of death, drugs – social chaos,
Never having learned more than taught by the school yard,
They were the predators, the purse stealing gang-bangers.

At night he reads his books devouring their nourishment
The taste exotic in his mouth, his mind oblivious
To the street light and noise beating at his door,
His paradise the magical words of poets, story tellers.

The bullies continued to die bleeding from wounds,
The parasites of night slaughtering one another,
Violently thrown in the trash heap of passing,
Forgotten in the moment of their dying.

They have lost the meaning of thought,
Carelessly wasted sparks in the void of eternity.
While he has captured the stars between pages,
Living in the words of the ages, growing.

When he passed away to peace, escaping into life,
He was found  in his reading chair, smiling,
A copy of Robert Burn’s “Wounded Hare” upon his chest,
Surrounded and loved by a thousand known, gentle, friends.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

4 thoughts on “The reader

  1. A bittersweet piece, full of familiar emotions. I liked the phrase, “The taste exotic in his mouth”. Thanks for sharing this.



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