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It is not the cruelty of children that angers me
But that my hesitation to commit the word to air
And, aye, maybe, to the ear, the heart, was treated as an affliction
By those with the polished shoes and starched aprons;
Sometimes I was not even there when they mocked me but I knew
What they did and ‘never-a-bother-it-was-to-me’.
But it was. I was brought up to be brave but inside I was bruised, battered.
Young only young.

I tried to pity my accusers: so narrow of soul, so clipped of speech, so incapable of reach.
I had my brother Pete, now so-long dead, and my sisters two,
Us poor kids, we mocked the rich kids
Knowing how little they knew.
If an aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick,
This son-of-an-orphan remembers it:

Granddad Jack who’d been a machine gunner
On the Somme in 1916
Didn’t say much: smoked Woodbines, didn’t read books,
Denied every pitying look, every cutting word, every condescending bending of the neck.
The centuries of insincerity that have delineated class relations
In this fucked-up country: John Clare, William Blake and Charlie Dickens
I write it out in a verse
Differently-abled stutterers, terse.

We poets arise from the dirt
From the same class that I feel an unending commitment to
The dispossessed, the prisoners, all the spice-island-rough-traders:
The vast, inglorious shipwreck of life’s esteems.

◄ Genocide


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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Sat 18th Mar 2023 09:26

One of my bosses was a stutterer.
He was a cracking bloke, a good listener, who had our respect.

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Stephen Gospage

Fri 17th Mar 2023 21:14

Your poetry comes from the heart and from the soul, John. Another stunning piece.

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John Marks

Fri 17th Mar 2023 16:51

Thank you so much Laura, Stephen & Keith. I do not often write autobiographical poems but this is one. Now I know that stuttering is ok because what I have to say is worth repeating!

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Laura Taylor

Fri 17th Mar 2023 14:38

Ohh, this is a sumptuous read, absolutely loved it. Angry on your behalf. I live with and madly love a stutterer, and he's one of the greatest poets/lyricists I know 💗

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keith jeffries

Thu 16th Mar 2023 23:47

The penultimate stanza is a masterpiece, the words of which I echo. I can more than relate to it as it became an impediment in my own life. Excellent piece of writing.

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