At age fourteen:
I discovered Grosz and the Go-Betweens,
and did ‘rowing’ to feign masculinity,
for who was there to tell?
A handful noticed my sad cheeks;
like Old Allingham, English teacher,
who saw my melancholy seep
as he read Salinger aloud,
he understood that young black cloud.
At age sixteen,
I discovered my first bully,
Or maybe Ashley Levi found me.
Sat alongside in band practice and
called me a ‘faggot’ between sips of Diet Coke.
And I’d always pitied him to varying degrees,
the fattest boy at school,
never shied from dropping a shoulder in the halls,
to demonstrate his immense weight.
At age twenty three,
Nine years now have come and gone,
I miss Old Allingham,
And Ash died before he’d the chance
to grow into a man. Just out of school
He snapped his spine and begged his parents
To flick the switch, quickly withered
like a crushed cocoon, trod into footpath —
barely leaving a mark.