We called it a frog: a knuckle raised above
a tight, thin fist. Rapped quick like a bullet
shot from a weak gun at close range, one hit
on a growing muscle or bone would move
even the meatiest boy to profuse
public tears, embarrassed girls giggling
to hide from the shock of violence swimming,
each stroke paddling one closer to excuse.
I turn my head and it seems the bully
is trying to punch a way out of my neck.
A lump, I sense but cannot feel, saps joy
and marks me, tells my friends and family
today, without reason, I’ll watch my back
and soon the playground will be less one boy.
This poem was originally published in The Resurrectionist