Sticks and Stones

“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” -James 3:8-10

When I was in 4th grade, Becky O’neill called me stupid because I wrote my J’s backwards

I told her, “J’s a hard letter.

You don’t know whether to hook left or hook right”

a right hook from ashton bellmen in jr. high

was meant to swell me up

and make my tiny nose normal sized

at least that’s what he told me

and in high school, Ryan Mundy called me things

I dare not repeat

but still replay in my head from time to time

all because I did theater instead of playing football

Sticks and stones, right?

sticks and stones may break my bones

but words

a stone I can take

a quick break

yeah, that I can shake

and you’ve never punched me in the face 

but every syllable you speak stabs through my spirit

and hardens my heart

and though my hand makes the cut 

your words are the accomplice

seeking to accomplish I know not what 

other than to bury some sense of loathing for your own self

i know you hate yourself so much

otherwise you wouldn’t be so obsessed with hating me more

no eye has seen

and no ear has heard 

just how much I care about what you think of me

because I would never show anyone

Other than the darkness of my bedroom and tear stained pillow case

Just in case mom or dad could hear my cries

i suffocated my suffering

in a cotton cased grave

and believed all the lies

that you told me about who i am

or what I would become

or who’s fault it was

it got worse when your fingers started saying what your mouth was to cowardly to utter

under the influence of your description of me 

i learned to despise many things about myself

not because they’re so bad 

but because if I didn’t have them

you wouldn’t have noticed them

and be powerless to use them against me

the pricks and pins of pricks opinions

spins my whole sense of self out of whack

and so i shacked up in the safest place possible 

the island of invisibility

on the shore of “don’t make any waves”

at the corner of complacency and fitting in

i hide in the back country of cowardice

praying they wouldn’t notice this insecurity factory I call a life

or a body

or a family

or a faith

and even today, I’m not lying when I say I could care less about what people think

because I could

I could care much MUCH less

because I still care a whole lot

but you are not my source

you are not my well

if your opinion of me was the last cup of water in the desert

I would throw it in your face

and though there’s still a trace of the pain you caused

those scars are hard as armor 

and so faint that sometimes 

I can’t even see them anymore

because the sticks that used to harm me, have been crossed

the stone that used to bruise me has been rolled away

sticks and stones were your weapon

but sticks and stones is his way

so say all you want

a better word has been spoken

lie all you need to

a greater truth has been revealed

hold me back if you like

but my future has been sealed

sticks and stones, right?


Watch my newest poem here:

Erin Jorgenson