Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The boy who lived on the second floor

He would pull my hair,
run after me around the block
holding a caterpillar on a stick,
and call me stupid.

I would bite his arm,
spit on his head whenever he
walked under my window
and call him stupid.

We would throw spiny seed capsules
of the castor oil plants around
at each other all the time.

Until one Sunday morning
getting back from church,
he left a note under my door

which read (in horrible handwriting):
Will you be my girlfriend?
and I crossed the box under yes.

(Written for Susan's Midweek Motif over at The Poets United and Robert Lee Brewer's Wednesday prompt over at WD)


  1. Hey! Thanks for this neat poem! That's the way it went back in the days of innocence.

  2. I've known boys like that too.


  3. Kenia, this poem is really lovely ;)

  4. Yes. I cross this poem's box under Yes, too :-)

    This is lovely and gentle, but not completely innocent, I think. It really hints at the end of innocence, doesn't it? Earlier the boy and girl were drawn together without knowing why, even if the attraction disguised itself as dislike. They were happy for any attention, with no "goal" or "purpose," really just play --- but from now on, the relationship has a meaning, a direction, opens toward adult relationship, with all the ambiguities and uncertainties (even if barely so, even if they are mostly still playing). Whatever is between them will be changed by being named. The word "girlfriend" creates a space of expectation and demand and possible disappointment where they might do real damage to each other. I like the word "crossed" in the last line, as if you are "crossing" some border into new territory. (And of course, it is Sunday morning, the boy is returning from church, and the shadow of "a cross" enters the poem --- faint glancings of sacrifice, blood, and love dance around that final stanza!)

    (May I say --- the poem would be stronger without the first stanza ... you don't need to say that you were 8 or that you and the boy weren't friends --- that is clear in what follows. And the other line is already the title, and it's a good title :-)))


    1. I really appreciate it that whenever you stop by, you see through the words and touches the bottom of the poem. You got it right, it's about the end of innocence, about the possibility of really hurting the other and of getting hurt. A feeling I've tried to convey before in this poem:


      It started as a challenge.
      We wanted to find out

      who could
      stand on one leg

      who could
      chase the other's shadow

      who could
      run faster to the river (or around the world)

      and get home at the end of the day
      not hurt or broken.

      Then someone said
      I love you.

      I'm losing first stanza for you. :)

      Again, thank you. <3

  5. I think this is utterly delightful!

  6. I very much enjoyed this and imho didn't think the first stanza weakened the poem at all. It fit to the flow and completeness of the thought. Poetry is not necessarily stronger by mere elimination of some easily implied part of the thought sequence especially when that part is essential to the flow and/or rhythm of the poem. Poetry isn't as seems to be the current trend using as few words as possible. Poetry is about speaking ideas beautifully and uniquely. Brevity is only one aspect. This poem is as is simply and beautifully written. It has a cadence illustrated in that simple way a child would view the situation and as such is beautiful. The first stanza sets the stage. If you don't believe me just read it aloud without the first stanza and then think how you would have to fix it and you will come up with something like the first stanza all over again.

  7. Anonymous5/10/2014

    fluid and illuminating. now I'm curious as to the first verse :)

    1. Michael, the first verse was:

      When I was eight,
      the boy who lived on the second floor and I
      were not the best friends.