For Danny (poem)

For Danny 

I blurted out the truth

mindless of the harm

‘He is vital, smart and interested. 

He makes me warm

To my subject.  So like my son!’

And then I left.

I had won,

but at the cost

Of self-approbation.

I had lost. 

A cry for help – silly white lies;

Despised now too in mother’s eyes.


He summoned me to his office, now alone

Mother and delinquent child long gone

‘Said you were ‘picking on him”, with a knowing grin

‘Both mad as hatters!  Evil as sin!’


No years of ‘chalk and talk’

and innocent upturned faces

Could prepare me for that walk

The troubled boy of ’84

aching no more.


He refused me leave

to attend the funeral mass

‘Pressed for time, you see!


I spoke out then.  Too late.

Tore into him

Begged God’s forgiveness

for the hate I bore him.


At the graveside I prayed

perpetual light to shine

On him whose earthly burden

weighed much heavier than mine

Until the lonely stress was raised at last

Through straining rope

hanging from a roof truss.


Last night I marked each hour

the ticking clock’s chime:

I was begging his forgiveness

for all the times

That I was self-obsessed

thoughtless or unkind

For easy victories 

when his troubled upturned face

was reading mine.


I pray the Lord his soul and mine to keep

when life is spent

And other sinners too

when they repent.

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