Today I re-imagined this previously posted poem in preparation of submitting it to be critiqued online, in front of an audience watching in real time, in a couple of days.
For those who have been with me for awhile, it may sound familiar. But, with the changes made, I think it's a better poem than the original. I'll find out if the online audience agrees (or not) on Thursday while watching the live critique.
Here is the re-worked (and, hopefully, much improved) version of "The Day I Saw Gerald's Head Get Smashed In With A Baseball Bat" - and I hope you enjoy it! ______________
The Day I Saw Gerald’s Head Get Smashed In With A Baseball Bat
“At least you’re not a violent boy”, the guidance counselor said My nose, bloody from the afternoon’s event, dripping… I looked at her without expression and with dead eyes “Go fuck yourself”, I heard myself say, and I didn’t see a classroom for a week… I’ll tell you how a boy becomes violent, if you really want to know
I smoked meth for the first time in the crawl-space beneath my friend’s house Gerald’s house. He and I, both 15, with a pipe we barely knew how to use My torn jeans with the anarchy symbols drawn on in permanent marker His glasses and good grades and hidden rebellious nature 15 pounds overweight with striped tube socks that almost reached his knees He was the saddest boy I knew
Gerald’s mom was beautiful and liked men who weren’t her husband I’d often get the phone call. “Hey, come over, I fucking hate my mom”. So I’d go over to Gerald’s, while my mother mixed TV reruns with Xanax and Jack Daniels Together, we’d listen to music for hours – angry and disturbing shit I learned most of the swear words I use today from Gerald He was the angriest boy I knew
On a day in early summer, Gerald fucked his first girl She had a common and unfortunate name Gerald called me and I listened as his ego glowed through the plastic receiver Gerald stood upon a celebratory mound of dirt with arms raised high Until the girl, at school, later told her friends he wasn't any good Gerald missed school for days and, even I, didn’t see him until the afternoon of Alex’s party
The hands on a clock move whether we are conscious of their motion or not It’s such a cliché, but it’s true, I caution you You don’t want to fuck with the quiet boy… He isn’t paying attention to the hands on the clock or elements of time He sits and waits, and plans, and thinks, and thinks and thinks Gerald was the most calculating boy I knew
Alex’s party was the finale to another dreadful year in high school His girlfriend knew how to put cheese on crackers with perfection I arrived a few minutes before Gerald did, with my ripped jeans and “Dead Kennedys” in marker Gerald didn’t say a word to me, his knock-off Polo shirt betraying him That night I tried Heineken for the first time, and Gerald did a line …The baseball bat leaned against the brown leather sofa, silent
I was on Alex's couch when I heard the scream A friend loudly gasped and, for a moment, the world paused It was the girl – Gerald’s girl – she was screaming…and Alex on his feet running towards the sound Across the room from me, Gerald stood still, unmoving His hands were bloodied and I saw nothing else, until I saw Alex with his bat Within moments, Gerald’s head opened up like a universe without limits ____________________
I’ll tell you how to make a boy violent, if you really want to know Tear him down, take away his dignity, make fun of him, and make him suffer Now, as an adult, sometimes people ask me about my childhood And I barely know how to respond or where to begin “It was mother fucking violent”, I sometimes reply And I survived it – I mother fucking survived it And still don’t know how