Afterwards when what was sanctioned as acceptable
or regarded as unremarkable
is reclassified as inhumane, barbaric or depraved
practitioners or admirers vanish without trace.
There never had been any Nazis in Germany
no secret police when the Iron Curtain rusted
even Jesus had no friends at the crucifixion.
And at school reunions
the lacquer of camaraderie coats the graffiti of bullying.
For bygone schools bullying was an unofficial uniform
as present as chalk
not encouraged, but lightly policed
seen as an element of manhood
or entrée to the inequalities of capitalism and social hierarchy.
By mathematics everything conforms to normal distribution
find a big enough sample and the bell curve rules.
Puberty is no exception
most congregate around the median
some either side – late and early – smaller numbers.
At a boys only school time confers advantages
on those whose hormones are impatient.
Muscles arrive before morality
some become lions, unsupervised classrooms a Coliseum.
Life’s first changing of the old order
for those whose development is slow
new shadows of anxiety
tact and flattery the circling wagons of defence.
One boy previously equal
by rapid growth to superiority
enjoys new-found equality with full-sized peers
and ability to extract respect from the undersized.
Roughing the yet, or never to be dominant with almost legitimacy
in touch football, a closed fist, or following through shoulder
a raised knee in the assault of bases
or defence of home plate
hoping for the blood rush of backlash – then a lesson.
One day during uncommon silence, an eruption
books fly, a desk overturns, a teacher barks urgent instructions
in the aisle, a thrashing torso, whirling arms, wet fronted trousers.
Epilepsy. Latent and stalking. Witnesses shocked … then frightened.
Three days later he returns to school
his days of bullying over – forever.
He could still remember how to break bones
but avenging adolescent spite never forgot spilt urine.
For the back story click Backstage
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