bully for him

A father takes his tears and outrage
to the internet.

                  And you bend, pulling
towels and napkins and facecloths warm
from the dryer, folding, stacking, clean
underwear, socks, prim and neat.

                                  One might
say he took it to the bully pulpit, but for
the evidence: his child, especially vulnerable,
bullied and crying.
                     Your children circle
around you like cats, in and out of your range
of vision, but always, you can hear them.
A teacher, an adult, laughing.
                                Water rushes
into the metal drum, you add liquid for suds,
toss in some jeans, a bathrobe, a t-shirt
emblazoned with a sparkly unicorn, cock your
head to savor their laughter.

Ella asked the Real Toads to write an "inner/outer" poem. This poem was inspired by the story of Stuart Chaifetz and his ten-year old son, and the everyday profundity of being a parent.


  1. A mother's life does revolve around laundry and laughter, doesn't it? This is an excellent capture of your inner/outer moments.

  2. That indeed is quite a story. I don't blame the father for doing what he did, though unconventional. I heard some of the language the teacher used when talking to the boy (on the news tonight), and it was inexcusable. It is sad when one puts one's children in the charge of people who are hurtful. It is awful when it is the teacher who is the bully!

  3. Great piece, Marian... washing has become my daily excuse to take a break from writing (when kids are in school). I saw that story today on FB. I was appalled.

  4. Well Done Marian...it is real!
    Sad story...
    I love the line the children circled like cats.
    They really do~

  5. I love this post, and the analogy of the cats - it's perfect, with the notable exception that cats are far cleaner...

  6. Why is it that outrage and deep care should only be confined to things inside our own homes? That's how desensitized evil beings like the teachers and aides inside that boy;s school cam to grow.

    Your piece shows that looking outside of ourselves is equally as beautiful as examining inside.

    Thanks for sturring these emotions inside me today. Your words worked, Marian. I hug you from Georgia.

  7. God--I love that you could put some positivity into this poem, marian, after hearing what went on in that classroom. I have a grandson with autism and it made me physically ill. Every single one of those adults should never be allowed in a situation where they are around children again. UGH. That said, the love of the parent is the child's only shield, and you give it it's everyday importance in the images of caregiving here.

  8. Stories like this make my head spin. I think you did a great job with the challenge, blending your outer reality with your thoughts on hearing the father's testimony.

  9. I can't imagine bullying an autistic child. I wouldn't have been able to write Akian's story as fiction, because it would never have occurred to me.
    Your poem is wonderful, Marian. And thanks for the eye-opening, but painful, video.

  10. There is never any excuse for bullying, no matter who the bully is. Disgraceful behaviour especially by a teacher. That you found something positive in the joy of your own children to counteract the topic is wonderful

  11. i'm sure there is a lot of laughter between that father and child as well,
    obviously there is an enormous amount of love there :)

  12. Oh my God, this video just sickened me. Thanks for bringing our attention to it. I can see you doing your laundry, watching this as your children are happy and laughing within hearing...the contrast......but the sameness in the love for one's children. I, too, love the line about the children circling like cats.

  13. Marian, the way you've woven these separate realities together here is striking... powerful

  14. I agree with turtlememoir...you have knitted two different realities into a poem. Great job!

  15. The cruelty of people is just sadder than hell, especially in cases like these. Bringing home the razor sharp point as always sistahhh.....amazing.

  16. Truly frightening thoughts, but you've done an excellent job of weaving them together.

  17. This is lovely -- I found the "cocking' of head especially vivid at the end. Really well done. I like the sopwith camel one too--I think any poem that uses the words Sopwith Camel deserves some sort of badge based on that alone! K.

  18. Wow...I echo all the comments before mine and sigh, because I've got nothing to add but wow.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!