Monday, July 1, 2013

Poem: The Strange Kid

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The Strange Kid

from the book: Life Will Get You in the End:
Short stories by David Satterlee

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Life Will Get You in the End:
Short Stories by David Satterlee

A story of bigotry and bullying told, disconcertingly, in a precise "Dr. Seuss" cadence. This was actually written several years before the 2012 mass-shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

The Strange Kid

This poem was written several years before the 2012 mass-shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. It addresses the kind of bigotry and prejudice that springs from fear and hate. The ideal cure for such violence is for us to get to know our neighbors, find common ground, and become true friends.

Since we first all went back to school
There’s been a boy who’s new.
He’s different in a lot of ways.
He’s not like me and you.
He wears a white cloth ’round his head
Because he is a Sikh.
He doesn’t want to take it off
To let us have a peek.
His name is even funny too,
And very hard to say.
So Bobby likes to make new names
We call him by each day.
He will not eat a hamburger
Or any kind of meat.
His mother sends him rice stuff that
Smells spicy, strange, and sweet.
And, when we sing
a special song
That’s for a holiday,
He only wants to hum the tune and
And won’t sing things our way.
When everyone salutes the flag
With hand upon their heart,
He only stands beside his desk
And will not do his part.
If he were more like Bobby and
He had a normal name,
We all could like him better and
Be more glad that he came.
Why couldn’t he be more like us
And do things just our way?
I think that if he weren’t so strange
We’d welcome him to stay.
Now, I’ve known Bobby all my life;
He’s never strange at all.
The girls all like the way he looks
And think he will be tall.
He’s strong and captain of his team.
We like it when he wins.
The only better thing would be
If he had been born twins.
The teachers all like Bobby too
And think that he is smart.
His homework grades could go up but
He doesn’t like to start.
The coach says he’s a leader ‘cause
He tells us what to do.
And, Bobby likes to tell us that
We haven’t got a clue.
Bobby has a dirt bike that
He drives beside the road.
He likes to drive it through the field
Before the wheat is mowed.
When Bobby gets a restroom pass
To smoke a cigarette,
We never tell the teacher so
He hasn’t been caught yet.
And, Bobby has a rifle that
He uses to hunt squirrels.
He brought a bag of them to school
And threw them at the girls.
He brings us music on CDs
Free from the music store.
We think he steals them and he says
It’s just what friends are for.
We know that Bobby does bad things
That no one ought to do
But Bobby says he doesn’t care
And we should do them too.
The strange boy says that he won’t be
With someone who’s not good:
That badness cannot just go on
Within a neighborhood.
The strange boy says that he can see
That Bobby soon will lose
The friends that he has had ‘till now:
That soon they’ll have to choose.
He says that goodness is a choice
That we should make each day.
He says that badness cannot last;
It will be stopped some way.
Last night to prove he was our friend
And just to have some fun,
That Bobby took his father’s car
To go out for a run.
He stole the keys from off the hook
beside the kitchen door.
He told us we should ride with him:
That we’d have fun for sure.
A bunch of friends went out with him
And asked if they could drive.
They laughed screamed and yelled because
They felt so much alive.
Instead of coming back themselves
Policemen came and said
The boys had had an accident:
And most of them were dead.
Their fam-i-lies and all their friends
Were sad and filled with grief.
The thought that this could happen was
A shock beyond belief.
The boy that we had thought was strange
Knew just what he should do.
He was the one that did what’s right,
And faithful, good, and true.
We found that he was not just strange,
But smart and lots of fun.
We liked it that he was a friend
When all was said and done.
We found that once you know them well
That people aren’t so strange:
And people who are truly good
Should never need to change.

Yes, it’s disconcerting to see such a serious issue and realistic story told with a Dr. Seuss flavor. I swear, I didn’t realize how it would end up when I started it.