Suffer the Children
by Ron Yazinski
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher who lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife Jeanne. His poems have or will soon appear in Mulberry Poets and Writers Association, Strong Verse, The Bijou Review, The Edison Literary Review, Lunarosity, Penwood, Chantarelle's Notebook, Centrifugal Eye, amphibi.us, Nefarious Ballerina, The Write Room, Pulsar, Menagerie, H.O.D., and Crash. He is also the author of the chapbook Houses: An American Zodiac, which was published by The Poetry Library and the book of poems South of Scranton.
The other day in class, a kid was studying my scars,
And he asked, "How old were you when you first tried?"
For a second, I didn't know what he was getting at,
Then I remembered his file.
I assured him that the dots and dashes on my left wrist, were
Not in some SOS that I was depressed as a teenager,
Any more than I am now.
"No, these just show how clumsy I was as a stock boy,
"Opening cardboard boxes with a utility knife,
"And in a hurry or tired, let the blade slip out of the box
"And slice into my arm.
"Most were just nicks that took peroxide and a band aid,
"But this long one was a gusher that the manager had to take me aside to calm me
"While he put a butterfly on it;
"Out of kindness perhaps,
"But also to keep from reporting it as an industrial accident,
"Which, from his point of view, was the right thing to do."
The boy smiled knowingly;
Then he pushed up the sleeves of his sweatshirt,
And explained how he tried to kill himself last summer,
Showing me long scars on the wrong side of his wrists.
At that, the girl sitting to his right, showed her hands,
And said that she had tried that too,
And that there was no truth that you see a bright light when you're about ready to die,
Because all she saw was the light on the top of the ambulance.
And a heavy set girl in the back, who hadn't participated all quarter,
Said she didn't see a light either when she OD.
And another girl with a bruised eye asked why step-fathers throw you down the steps
When they get drunk.
But we were getting off topic,
So I said each should raise a hand, the one with the scars on,
And wait to be called on before they spoke out.
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