A Dark Memory


If only he hadn't had freckles.
If only he had been taller.
If only he hadn't spoken with a lisp.
If only he had liked playing football.
If only he hadn't been so shy.
If only the teachers had noticed.
If only he hadn't worn shorts.
If only he had liked pop music.
If only he had said something.
If only he had told someone.
If only one of us had tried to be his friend.

These are the threads that
Were woven into the school tie
With which he took his life.


◄ School Days - Best Days Of Our Lives?


Chrissy Reeves

Sun 19th Jun 2016 21:46

Gosh. This is a powerful poem. I can imagine the feeling of your audience as the poem unravels thread by thread to reveal the final end. Chrissy.

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Paul A M Palmer

Sun 19th Jun 2016 19:13

I would like to thank everyone who has commented and liked this poem - it means a lot to me. It was meant to be a poem that provided context to 'Herringbone' (see my previous blog) and it is the memory that 'sticks in my throat' referenced in that poem.

I'm glad that it has made such a positive impression, given the negativity that surrounds the subject matter, so thanks again.


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M.C. Newberry

Sun 19th Jun 2016 19:00

The style and cumulative effect of this poem's theme is
Surely representative of how vulnerability in youth can
be self-destructive if not recognised and addressed.
Taking the time and trouble to make the effort can be
hugely influential in showing how life should be valued.
Sadly, it is also a fact that nature can take no prisoners
and there will always be those who somehow seem to
be beyond that help via a variety of factors, some
inherited, some imposed, some self-inflicted, but all
dangerous in their various ways - and often deadly in

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Sun 19th Jun 2016 13:06

Very impressive indeed Paul. It reads like a eulogy, and has a hypnotic quality.


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Lynn Dye

Sun 19th Jun 2016 11:49

Wow, this is so powerful and touching. Well written, Paul. I can certainly imagine it going down well in recital.

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Paul A M Palmer

Sun 19th Jun 2016 10:38

As I mentioned in my previous blog, there are memories that stick in my throat, as it were. The poem above was written after I’d been having a conversation about Herringbone and its roots as a poem. When I’d finished it, I wanted to read it out at an Open Mic event, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work until I realised that it needed to have two voices, so I asked the audience to say the word ‘thread’ with me. The effect was quite dramatic, given the content, and I heard a gasp from someone who seemed to spot where the poem was leading before we got to the end.

I think that the poem’s subtext about us all having a responsibility to engage with each other in kindness really came across during the recital. I hope that it inspires all of us to make the effort – as my Dad would have said “It wouldn’t have killed you to say ‘Hello'” … and I couldn’t have put it better myself …

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