Kids are Cruel
Billy had a friend
Called Donald with
A face like a donkey
And teeth like a duck.
They used to run amuck
In school playgrounds
And forests where they'd
Hide in trees and launch
Frozen peas at old people
Squatting under home-spun
But aged twelve, Billy shelved affection
For his friend with the distorted face.
He changed his name to Will and started
Having sex and carrying a briefcase.
When Will avoided him at school,
Donald took to ducking classes
And covering his facial anomalies
With sticking plasters.
But Will was not impressed
And left his former side-kick
Alone in his world of lop-sided features
That seemed to have been
Inherited from several different
Donald sat vainly in their childhood tree
Where his face grew long and green
With pre-pubescent jilted lover's weeping.
He cried for one week, then fell asleep,
Dreaming mournful cess,
Mouth gaping doomed distress.
It was winter. The peas froze
And slid icily from the leaves
Above, filling mouth and nose
Absorbing breath, choking grief.
He fell without a cinematic thud.
Jagged frame sank lifeless in the mud.
Forty six years later Will
Tried to find Donald
For a school reunion.
Poem Study Notes:
This poem was written in 2002, after the poet had attended (and in fact helped to organise) his first school-reunion-organised-via-social-media event.
The poet feels privileged to be a member of the generation which is old enough to remember the time when nobody kept in touch with anybody except their closest one or two school friends, but young enough to witness a time when it is getting increasingly rare to lose touch with anybody, like it or not!
Increasing longevity of relationships may then raise the question of the depth of those relationships, which is a possible main theme for this poem.
I have never fired frozen peas at anyone, though I do remember a time, aged around eleven, when a friend and I concealed ourselves in a ditch at the edge of the forest and fired spud guns at passing cars. One angry driver stopped and chased us...