so what’s the factor you’d divide humanity through–

“what am i supposed to tell him?”
my colleague asks during lunch break
“wish i knew how to protect &– “

he’s a special need kid, his way to school,
a drama in countless acts // running the gauntlet,
stomach aches, tears, anger, fear &
one day he hits back
all pent up rage like rockets on his fists
the other guy gets injured seriously &

we walk up the grape hills in soft autumn light
i ask my husband “when you were a kid,
was there bullying in your class? i mean like
breaking outsiders apart?”

i try but can’t remember, there’s
matthias, tiny, long haired guy in third grade,
tank-thick glasses (his eyes miles distant)
think we liked him anyway, pale susan
not allowed to join for sports,
the turkish girl who always smelled of garlic–

“yes there was” he says,
but different quality maybe,
we annoyed them out their skin,
fought hard, but didn’t kill them (mentally)
you can’t compare it to what happens now”

“these girls” a friends says “in my son’s class
put a video on YouTube– & it spreads
like a disease– classroom to classroom, can you image
what they’re going through?”
& we could say it is their own fault, but
what gives us the right to

hit the other in the eye until they vomit on the floor,
scalp ‘em with blunt knives, powerDrill every
organ out their half-limp corpse
(to mute our own pain?) // fragile scaffolds,
detour lightning that would burstSmash us
to pieces in the mud,

& don’t realize
how we eat our own flesh/sinews/skin,
blood-smeared lips//piss in puddles ‘round our toes,
(disgusting truth) & it takes de-
proportional equations (pencil in the X’s–
more– more– lots of ’em)
to change things.


it’s bullying awareness month and charlie zero shared a bit of his story over at dVerse the other day… free theme choice for OLN but if you want to, it would be cool to raise our voices as poets against bullying… see you at 3pm EST at dVerse...


53 responses to “so what’s the factor you’d divide humanity through–

  1. its a brave new world…and a scary one at that…what with social media and online video…you can destroy someone in seconds with a remark…and its taken as truth…we eat ourselves and our young…it was alive and well in my school growing up…and still today…its different though…and the solutions, the self destruction of taking the life of another…ugh…its hard…i confront it, when i see it…

  2. I remember … being bullied by my class mates in school because of being Roma … I also remember becoming a “star”, because of my gift for doing math, and helping my bully class mates … I also remember the tears of my new found friends, when I left age 16, in order to escape marriage … bullies had turned into friends, who could not help me … nonetheless … I remember everything.

  3. Very powerful piece… i don’t know if it’s anymore harsher now than it has been in the past rather it’s entertainment on social media sites, that makes bullying constant and far reaching…there’s no respite at home it gets you wherever you are…it’s a sad time. It’s hard for me to think it’s any more violent than the past having been violently bullied in my first year in high school…I think back and boy I should have had those bullies on charges. Bullying is violent always has been both mentally and emotionally…Oh gosh it’s a strong poem that brings it all back… Excellent stuff Claudia!

  4. Back in the dark ages, it was rare to find weapons in a child’s pocket or backpack and no youtube or facebook but it was often very cruel. The violence wasn’t during class time or even playground but beware of an ambush on the way home. I can’t speak for everywhere that was in the states.

  5. It was everywhere, but I made those idiots aware, they bother me and I’d kick em above the knee lol left me alone. Now a days though with the soch media crap you can be screwed over before the tone

  6. Sometimes I wonder if it’s really worse… a lot of things have become better also. Maybe we just are faced with it every day in the news. Before it was hidden and going on in the dark. Saw statistics the other day that in Sweden young people in average are less inclined to violence, the number of murders are 50% of what they were just 20 years ago. But we are bombarded with the disasters….

  7. Reflective, Claudia…and it made me think back on my experience of bullying way back in the 1950’s. One of my saddest memories is of two kids in grammar school who were targets and I was a passive participant in the group. I have so many regrets over that and wish I could somehow make amends. I also was bullied by a family member. But I do have to agree, the bullying we experiences back then was more along the lines of mean teasing–not like kids go through today. Perhaps my amends need to take the form of a poem of my own. Thank you.

  8. Shivers with the harsh realities–I was bullied, my kids were bullied–it’s a rough time to be in school and some of those scars are never really erased–excellent write

  9. Social media can be used for better and for worse and can make bullying even worse as bad words and rumors will spread like fire. As adults I also think we ought to teach kids how to use them sensibly. Kids need to be aware of the harm they can do and also of the risks they run if they ‘befriend’ everybody on the internet.

  10. In my day, we never had any kids who killed themselves (in my town) over being bullied. We just learned how to survive, and grew up stronger for it. But social media can magnify the harmful effects of bullying, I think, to where some kids must feel like the whole world is against them.

  11. The weapons of bullies are so much more powerful nowadays…with Facebook & You-Tube and Twitter, etc. So many vulnerable young people out there, and so many ways for them to be harmed. A strong poem, Claudia. One which makes us think & hope for the safety of our young.

  12. Odd how technology has been used a bullying tool. Adolescent angst, introverts, bullies, peer pressure, all mixed into the school milieu. When I was a teenager I was too busy growing up to have the perspective anyone can have now. I do remember, like Brian, jumping in, intervening when I would witness a bullying event; and of course, when it was my turn, there was no one to jump in to intervene for me.

  13. It is a new world from when we were young. I hope we, as adults, are equipped for the experience. THis is a truthful write, Claudia, and thanks to the internet will be read widely. It is up to us to step in and help.

  14. Bullying is much more visceral now and you captured that in your writing. I was confused about topic today. Bullying discussed but no link yesterday. Today a different prompt of how we keep thoughts to write. Wish I had done bullying. So well done, Claudia.

  15. Yup, it might boil down to the parents–of which there were almost always TWO–and training–example. So who now must take over that obligation? Ahh, yessss! GOVERNMENT.

    Of course the record there is what? HALF of the words WAR and PEACE? Throw money at the problem, and it will go away? INDIVIDUAL choice, conscience, rust in a Higher Power…but these are slipping fast away.

    BTW, only time I think of my own early troubles being bullied, is when it might help another, Then I tell my story. On these blog posts, we NEVER KNOW who might be affected, who benefits from what is written here.

    So KUDOS, Claudia, for raising these topics, which are of world-wide concern.

  16. Wow… as always, you amaze with with the artistry of your words, bringing home this oh so difficult subject… showing us the reality, the rawness, the cost. Really powerful, visual imagery. Visceral even. Your poetry never ceases to leave me in awe.

  17. Claudia this is a powerful! and moving poem.

    Cyber-bullying is the most dangerous thing out there today. Especially when it comes down on picking on someone that’s fragile and those bullies go out of their way to post it on video? for everyone to laugh at a victim?

    Bullies are a poison in our society and should not be doing these terrible things to people. Thank you Claudia so much for being you and so creative…I love this poem and thank you a millions.

  18. Since most of my career was training professionals to work with special needs kids…this particular poem strikes a nerve…children unfortunately learn how to behave towards others from their parents quite early in their life.

  19. Those last two stanzas moved me ~ I have watched YT & cyber bullying kill, its a sad occurrence but it happens ~ Strong write here Claudia ~

  20. A strong message..I think bullying has been around a very long time but, now has come front and center through media coverage and of course now people
    can bully though social media.

  21. Very well done. Wonderful imagery & description of characters. I couldn’t imagine going to grade school nowadays, how easy & dislocated bullying has become because of social media, and long with face-to-face taunting & confrontation.

  22. If wounds inflict physical pain, the words are daggers that could penetrate the shield of a person and tear him apart.
    It is so sad… bullying- the word has become diverse today. Hitting some one who doesn’t return the favor, taunts that torment his soul, and the internet rules, as usual.
    You have beautifully given voice to your thoughts.

  23. Some really harsh and scary words in there, Claudia. Shocking people to the realities of bullying. And bullying has changed, you are right,it has been amplified by social media. I really worry about my children – the older one is as soft as jelly.

  24. So full of insight…why is ? it an aberration or part of being going to war..who is capable of this type of thing? Ugh…I remember the kids in grade school, too, who were bullied…sad.

  25. That is utterly and heartbreakingly good Claudia. Reminded me of when I was bullied – and the times when I’ve seen adults bullied too. It is a sad situation that we can make better by talking about it, and saying, “NO! Enough!”

  26. Gone are those days people are defenceless, bullying hunt their feet like to get them cold! But i think the world is changing… Its had enough of it! Thanks to this awareness too!!

  27. xenophobia starts early…through ignorance…through faulty parenting and laissez faire schooling….it’s rampant, dangerous, destructive…and you underscore this well in this write. x

  28. This is such a strong piece, Claudia! While social media has changed things, I do also hope one change is that people can talk about it more now (if someone doesn’t have friends at school, maybe there will a friend online to listen).

  29. bullying can last ‘forever’…

    But perhaps even more interesting…is I had no idea what the word f**** meant in school other than It was toned in a mean way…

    There was no google then…

    In fact I did not fully understand what sex was until I was 18 and had a real girlfriend with all the ‘parts’….

    But..if I had google now and was able to find the meaning of skank and other gibberish..that all i understood ‘then’ is mean..without full intent…

    It would have likely been more Icey cold to understand more fully the impact of the bullying as a relatively naive child on the autism spectrum…

    Cluelessness..protecting my soul..enough to get by…

    I cannot imagine what it would be like to grow up now..With the full impact of all the bullying amplified a thousand seems..from what it those days..of hidden truths of hate..that are never hidden now…

    Only a google keystroke away…or an amplification ‘forever’ on a Facebook page…

  30. Bullying shows the dark-side of the internet; for too many kids there’s almost no escape from their persecutors. What is social media to us is all too often anti-social media for the bullies; just another place to act big at someone else’s expense.

    there was bullying at most of my schools, but it had nothing like the intensity that there is today.

  31. to mute our pain and then not realize it’s us puddling around our feet –

    it does seem much worse than 50+ years ago when I would be chased by a pack of older boys (me in first or second grade) , being the only hispanic in an upper-middle class elementary, but they’d punch-chase me only to a point, or stop if a passerby girl or car came by and said “stop it!”

    but, history says these terrible crumbling of our manners to ourselves, goes in cycles, and some, the decade before i was born, during wwii, was more brutal than when i first came round

    your lines claudia, haunting, and not just for halloween (do they have that there in europe?), and just reminders of our humanity, thank you

  32. Very well written to bring about great discussions. There is a missing component that an atheist mentioned to me this year! An being an American aged 80’s plus;
    “We had to go to church and we had only one kind of chaplain. It was a requirement in the Army (in the United States) early on throughout boot camp! This seemed to make a huge difference in the way people thought and normal behavior. An above average tolerance for all people, regardless of sex, creed, race or sexual preferences.” In summary he said there is nothing new here except the decrees; people are taught hate, instead of tolerance!

  33. I’m glad you depict the ugliness of bullying. What a serious issue. I wasn’t able to write about it, but your poem actually says it all. Thanks Claudia.

  34. Bullying has been a forever thing, unfortunately, and there are all kinds. Now that we have the internet it seems to leave a wider swath of hurt in its’ path and makes one wonder if technology…sometimes….has more misgivings than not. A very thought engaged piece, Claudia.

  35. Compassion truly starts at home as well as self-confidence. Bullies often lack self-confidence. I also think a parent’s denial that “oh, my child would never…” is often at play. Vigilance is necessary, and the very thing these kids often don’t have – an adult looking over their shoulder. The last bit reminds me that even though they try to teach anti-bullying in school, an X in the correct answer box is just a small attempt to set things right – it must be taught when they are young and at home! (I’m getting around very late to last week’s Open Link Night)