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Shit boy

by DJC 

Posted: 23 January 2006
Word Count: 356
Summary: A total rewrite, trying to be more honest. A different boy this time, one who was always having 'serious chats' with me about how hard his life was. Poor lad. Original is underneath.
Related Works: pro-ana • 

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This lad waits back at the end
of class, says he has things to say,
things for my ears only.

They call him ‘only half there’,
whisper about the other half
behind his back, about him shitting

himself last year, in maths. About
how he stinks, which is true,
only I’m not allowed to say so.

He sits on the edge of the desk.
‘Can you keep a secret,’ he says.
I tell him I can guarantee

nothing, which is always a good
way out. He nods. He’ll tell me
anyway, whether I like it or not.

It’s about a girl, he says, about
a girl he’s been seeing (no longer
do they ‘go out’ as we used to) –

about the things she’s been saying
about him, to her friends, calling him
‘shit-boy’ and making noises.

You know the sort of noises, he says.
Not very nice noises. They make me feel funny.
I shake my head and tell him I’m sorry.

He looks at me as if there is
nothing more than this moment,
these girls, their insults.

I leave him sat on the edge of
the desk, looking at his feet;
a lemming contemplating freefall.

Original confessional:

The boy who wasn’t there

I was the boy who wasn’t there.
There were parts on show; my face,
the clothes I wore, my skinny
fingers writing finger marks in air.
My mousy hair. But most was not
a place that you could go.

I was an ugly boy. My eyes
said nothing – no truth, no lies,
my mouth seldom opened, and
when it did all you could see were
these ratty teeth, this thin pink tongue,
the deep recesses of my blank beneath.

I’d come to class and sit
at the front, and look at you
as if to say: ‘Teach me something
I’ll never know. Tell me how
it works, this place. Give me
something to hang on to.’

You taught, I listened, we were
groping our way towards each other,
but without words we were lost.
The most you could do was smile
at me, talk in one direction,
imagine my distance.

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Comments by other Members

DJC at 14:08 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
None of my links seem to work, Nell. Will let David know. The poem is in response to that programme, following the two girls. It originally began with the title 'The Diet Club', but I thought 'pro-ana' was more powerful.


Oh, it's working now. How odd.

Nell at 14:11 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Darren, I still can't make the link at the top work. The one below my post was copied directly from the poem page itself.


It does work!

fevvers at 14:31 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren

Nell's right

The link isn't working.


DJC at 14:35 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Have emailed Dave about this.


david bruce at 14:51 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
link's fixed guys!

DJC at 14:56 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Cheers, David - that was speedy!

paul53 [for I am he] at 16:47 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Shouldn't David's icon have a star on both shoulders [or is he in a lone star state]?
Hi Darren,
Can this be a realistic depiction of how you once were, or a clever subterfuge? It could be both at once, the physical description how you inwardly felt.
fingers writing finger marks in air
is very fine.

Xenny at 19:56 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Hey there

Nice to meet you. I think you've appeared on the board while I've been away.

I liked your poem. I liked the rhythm of it - maybe it's because I'm a slightly lazy reader but I like poems which just seem to carry me along and give me a sense of them without having to do too much thinking!

I couldn't begin to guess whether the poem is 'true', though if I had to I'd perhaps guess that it was based on a truth and worked into something. Perhaps like Paul said, a physical description of an inward feeling. The first two paragraphs had a particular realness about them. Maybe because there was a sense of a sort of defiant honesty.

Thankyou :)


Elsie at 20:16 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren, I read your pro-ana piece the other day, and really liked it, very sad and powerful. This one I am not quite getting what the boy's problem is - is he autistic?

Shika at 20:54 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Hi there

Is the boy being bullied by his teacher? I could not tell if it was real or not, possibly a mixture of both? In anycase I enjoyed reading it. S

Nell at 21:28 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren,

I might have believed this was true, but the 'perhaps' in the summary and the pro-ana link made me have doubts. I can't quite see you as an ugly child either. It's an interesting subject you've chosen - I felt that anorexia was shown as well as other body-image problems - less usual for boy than girls. Loved that line ...my skinny / fingers writing finger marks in air... and liked the idea of ...the deep recesses of my blank beneath... but felt perhaps it could have been said more naturally. I still can't quite get hold of the concept of ...But most was not / a place where you could go.... I expect I'll wake up at 3am with a revelatory moment.

I had a problem with the introduction of the 'you', the teacher. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because he/she appears so suddenly and unexpectedly in what seemed at first an introspective poem. The 'you' addressed has no real presence at the moment. I do think that there are good ideas here, but perhaps this particular poem needs to abandon the exercise and find its own life, its own true story.

Hope you don't mind these impressions put across straightforwardly - they're just one opinion. I think there's an excellent poem here, but it's not quite there yet.


joanie at 22:36 on 23 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren. I took this to be the memories of a boy who felt inferior at school, perhaps a victim of some sort, who hoped that he might have had some support from a particular teacher.

I can picture the boy, actually, but I agree with Nell that you don't seem to be the boy; were you the teacher??


gard at 00:05 on 24 January 2006  Report this post

I thought this piece was true but yes I agree with Joanie that maybe a child who is a victim or for some reason very introvert or unconfident (perhaps physically). I thought I sensed a flatness or perhaps unhappiness not sure..

I do like this piece. I like the form and flow and I think the last stanza does not close the poem down but opens it up for further thought especially the last line which has a certain poignancy and could be the start of another piece.

well done


DJC at 10:01 on 24 January 2006  Report this post
You're right, I hold up my hands - I was that teacher! Although at school I did feel many of these feelings of not being part of what was going on around me. My mother says that when I enjoyed something I used to look incredibly serious, as if I was having to concentrate on enjoying it! So I was a bit aspergic as a child. I think a lot of writers are, as they have to enjoy being on their own.

Nell - perhaps you're right - I need to work a bit more on this, away from the confession angle. Originally I had it in the third person, 'He was the boy who wasn't there', but changed it on a whim and preferred it that way. But the intro of the teacher might need more thought - perhaps make it more specific from the start.

And I wasn't the most lovely-looking lad at school, I have to say. Painfully thin, white as a ghost, and my mum used to give me the most godawful haircuts. Scarred for life, I was.

Thanks for all your constructive/positive comments.

joanie at 10:26 on 24 January 2006  Report this post
Great, Darren - I was right!! YES!! Oops, sorry, this isn't a competition, is it? Getting carried away!


Xenny at 13:51 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
I don't know how best to phrase this but there seems to be a lot more coming *out* of this poem. I just read that you rewrote it trying to be more honest - I think that's what it is that's coming accross. It's really gripping, horrible and moving. I read it fast to see where it was going like I would a book with a good story.

"He’ll tell me
anyway, whether I like it or not."

Gave me feeling of momentum - this boy's picked the teacher to talk to and he's going to talk, and the teacher being a teacher must listen.

I thought this bit was good, very horrible:

"Not very nice noises. They make me feel funny."

I wanted to read the original for comparison but not sure if it's still there in your uploaded work - will have a look in a sec.


DJC at 14:51 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
It's not, but I'll repost it some time soon. Thanks for the kind words, Xenny. This boy used to say a lot that some things made him 'feel funny'. He was thirteen, as well - a bit special needs, but it was hard to dislike him as he just needed looking after. He kind of latched onto me. I often end up with the waifs and strays, as I guess I used to be one myself.

Nell at 15:38 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren,

No flicker of doubt of the truth of this one. I'm not sure you're right about ...(Know it will be / forgotten by the time I’ve had coffee / and been to the loo...) though - assuming you mean the boy will have forgotten rather than the teacher. And they say schooldays are the happiest days of your life. I like the image of children as lemmings, the way that hints at peer pressure, the picture of the lone lemming in freefall somehow more poignant than hundreds falling together. You could lose 'like' in the penultimate line to make the ending more powerful.

You could paste the original below this new version with V1 and V2 above each, then the comments will make sense again, and it would be good to compare the two.


Nell at 15:38 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
Sorry about the italics...

DJC at 16:18 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
Ah, good idea. I'll make that correction and post the original underneath. Never thought of doing that.

Sounds awful to say perhaps, but when you've dealt with the same stresses day after day with some of these kids, you tend to take little notice of what they worry about, as by the next day the kids themselves have forgotten all about their dramas. You learn which to ignore and which to take further.

paul53 [for I am he] at 18:48 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren,
Sorry, I missed the rewrite as I was checking on the leader board placings. Interesting, though, me and the missus watched "Mean Creek" on Sky PPV last night about 5 kids getting even with the school bully, only he was really a misunderstood kid with problems, etc. etc. Quite poignant really, as was this poem. And probably the most poignant part is we can all put a different name or face to that kid, and grow embarassed at our youthful heartlessness. Well done.

DJC at 06:25 on 27 January 2006  Report this post
So true - I've been bashing around a story/novel idea along these lines, Paul, so maybe I need to explore this further. I remember being horribly bullied at school, then found myself, when a smaller, weedier boy came along, beginning to bully him, almost without realising. We all have that capacity within us - it's just that most of us manage to keep it hidden and rationalise what it is we should and shouldn't do. After all, there are bullies of all ages, in all walks of life.

DJC at 06:41 on 28 January 2006  Report this post
Have slightly altered it, taking out penultimate stanza (the one about forgetting him by the time I've had coffee). Does this work better?

Elsie at 19:54 on 28 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren - like your new ending. But, then wondered, is he a lemming - maybe, following other adolescent boys..

DJC at 20:59 on 28 January 2006  Report this post
Elsie - yes, this is a tough one. I was trying more to get across this idea of jumping into the abyss of adulthood without knowing what was down there. He was a terribly naive boy who didn't stand much chance if I'm honest. So I kind of saw him at the end of the poem looking down at his feet in the same way a lemming might look down the cliff before jumping. But yes, linking it to the idea of following also applies, particularly as he had no idea where he was being led, mainly by his hormones.


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