I was a very bratty twelve-year old. My then best friend's name is obscured to protect the not entirely innocent
A BALLAD OF ABUSE AND REVENGE
Crewcut and tonsured, hands like greedy steaks,
face carved of granite in a constant frown,
he seized our trouser belts and pulled them down
each time. “I flog when anybody breaks
these very few and very simple rules.”
The leather strap was long as his long arm.
He told us flogging would not do us harm
and it was standard in the best of schools.
A text book stolen. The wrong pair of shoes
worn in a classroom. Or scribbled aslant
handwriting should be straight. I really can't
remember all his rules. He'd sometimes choose
one to be flogged for all. Sometimes my friend
slightly less camp than me. And sometimes me.
Peter and I discussed this over tea,
decided all this nonsense had to end.
It fucking hurt. We looked round then said fuck,
we felt quite guilty swearing. We were twelve
A few months less. You can't defend yourself
at that age. You are really out of luck.
We thought we'd change things. Maybe we could kill
headmaster Kevin. No one would believe
two smart queer kids could possibly conceive
that plan. We had no strength so brains and skill,
and watching waiting planning. When he drove
his battered car, he'd scrape along a wall.
What would it take, we thought, to make it fall?
Smiled at each other. Whipping marks fade mauve
then to pale lines. So Monte Cristo's count
became our model. Each and every day
stand by the wall each break and pull away
a little crumbled mortar. No amount
we couldn't scatter walking back to class.
He flogged us still. He also had his pets.
Athletes and jocks. A twelve year old forgets
so much. I know he never touched my arse
except with leather. But I felt his hate
felt flicks of sweat each time the strap would burn.
We listened every time he would return.
He took his favourits running. Came back late.
Worry they might get hurt? Not very much
They were his favourites so they took his cue
He picked on us. So they picked on us too
We smirked and guessed each of them felt his touch
along a thigh. We picked at mortar talked
of books and art and music.We'd compete
smart brainy kids also a bit effete
Started to guess ourselves as what we balked
at quite acknowledging. Our whole careers
started from those long talks. His intellect
my wit. His urge to win, mine to collect
great stacks of fact. Accepted we were queers.
And did not care. Murder was such a sin
we knew that we were damned would go to Hell
just hoped we'd drag him down with us as well.
Anger and pride – damnations all begin
with such. Our catechisms said our souls
were damned by bad intentions carried through
we shrugged and wept a bit as children do.
We picked at cracks and these became small holes.
The end was sudden. In a maths exam
heads down we scribbled and we heard a bang.
We thought if we were caught we'd hang.
He staggered past the window. We thought Damn!
His robes were tatters and the car a wreck
Our faces were the one thing that were straight
And eaten very cold revenge is great
Although we failed to break his fucking neck.
Many years later, when the scandal broke
after his death, a classmate.an MP,
had no idea, or so he said to me,
“I thought he always seemed a decent bloke.”