Rodney the Tormentor came toward me,
a slick sneer edging the mug of his leering mouth.
He prepared the next barb garnished with a delicate sliver of dry ice.
What was he going to find to ridicule this time?
My hair too long, too short?
The art assignment a pathetic attempt at literature?
My bowling action; a cross between a mental patient and a broken wind-mill?
Knees too bulbous for any normal person?
I thought, not today.
I’ve had this, like this, for almost two years
each day a new torture, a new laceration of clean practiced words
and me accepting the torment with the dull weariness that comes only from unkind relentless repetition
allowing the beast fresh meat
thinking, hoping one day he’ll stop
surely he’ll tire of the incessant need to ridicule
believing one day the ‘turd’ jokes will dry up
but they never do
such is the never-end brutal articulation, the
verbal incision, the cruel words of blunt destructive beauty:
teenage confidence stumbling like a novice boxer
dribbling with fresh bruises
but not today
the animal hunted turns
to find precision and strength in defiance
it is the time to wound the wounder
and then all
‘Rodney the Tormenter’ going down in a windless scream
two years in the forging
one first and final blow
one strike one out
a fist gutting and nothing gets back up
the art gallery attendant, the other students on excursion
the teachers, all as if complicit in retribution like a magicians audience;
look the other way
and Rodney down solar-plexus perplexed
the swift shock in defeat
and a new entry in the part of Rodney’s brain that stores
future possible outcomes to hitherto unchecked actions
decades later I can still see his face in that ghastly micro-moment: pain, shock, horror
and most surprisingly