Boarding School Troubled Teen

Whenever it is discovered that someone attended boarding school, the focus of conversation gets interesting questions. Is it really like the Harry Potter novels? What was the food like? Did you join the pillow-fights? Did many run away?

Girls frequently ran away. One of my girlfriends did. So did I. It was quite unusual for a boy to run away. As you will read, I ran away after being beaten up by a master. I was returned the same night by my naieve mother, persuaded by the headmaster ….

photo: Dora Kazmierak

pensive portrait 2 copy

Pulled by long mop top hair,

pushed down two flights of stairs,

the master had the upper hand,

I tumbled terrified – (you understand….)

 

Fists impacted my frame, furiously,

border-boys peered out windows, curiously

not even the prefects intervened –

I was utterly all alone, it seemed…

 

Reluctantly I apologised – (because sore)

the beating stopped – but not the score:

my empty school desk evident next day,

a homebound train carried me away.

 

Naieve mother sent me back that night:

(just before Easter) – school always right;

collected from station by worried headmaster:

teen defiant drama became pastoral disaster.

 

Confidences disclosed: father’s school debt;

self-exile decided (later, much regret)

sealed by stupidity, fragile teen’s fate:

overburdened by too much family freight…

 

Decades later, I walked through those doors:

sweet remembered scent, waxed parquet floors.

Newtown: I got my first good-start there.

Newtown: reluctantly I left my heart there.

 

Fifteen of us re-united thirty years after,

poignancy was present but also laughter,

long-gone bully, not worth name mention;

met kinder teachers: affection retention.

 

Newtown, fed my hope-hungry heart,

almost-redeemed me with music and art;

I still yearn those years, still easily upset:

this poem refunds that tremendous debt….

Boarding School Bullies Failed…

In November 2016 I revisited Newtown, my old boarding school. I brought along my friend / photographer, Dora, to capture the spirit of that fondly-recalled, foundational place. Like others, I was bullied a bit but the senior sadists didn’t break my spirit….I was much helped at the time by the happy, hopeful top-ten gospel song, ‘O Happy Day’.

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photo: Dora Kazmierak

pensive portrait copy

Remembered: the drop-kick ball slap,

cheek-sting, my spectacles misshaped

  • feared that full force whack.

Other juniors distracted, I escaped

repeat impact then; often terror trapped

in the junior common room: one exit only:

senior hyena-laughter, first-form boy lonely.

 

Scared by the sound of ball-ricochet bang.

On the valve radio a black mass choir:

how hopeful those one-time slaves sang,

Hawkins almost set this soul on fire:

‘O happy day’ the gospel anthem rang.

Bullies failed to beat up this boy’s heart:

boarding school safe shelter, emotional ark.

Dawn Squeezes Through Unbuttoned Shutters

 

dawnWintry wind tunnel-tumbles through trees:

engine-insistent, vacuuming bare boughs;

my early a.m. sleep is stolen successfully.

 

Awakened, yawning, at least luke-warm:

mattress generous, antique four poster:

snug-soft pillows, duvet bosom-plump.

 

Short-sighted, grappling the stubborn switch,

reluctantly turned on, bedside light soft,

thoughts typewriter-tapped on a black tablet.

 

Dawn squeezes through unbuttoned shutters,

I cold water wash, don un-warm clothes,

descend the dark draughty sweep of stair.

 

Last night’s stove ash, silken silver slivers

poked through grate gaps, void cast-iron cold,

chopped log inferno-flames worry the window.