The World According to a Child Soldier (II)

The paper records showed that I was

Girl Eleven-Thousand-Two-Hundred-And-Seven and

I talked only to walls in an unknown language.


The children avoided the pew under the great oak tree

where I sat, knees bent, staring at

my notebook with many blank lines.


On a solitary battlefield, inside the rusty ceiling ghetto,

I learnt to hold my breath under water, counting the steamy bubbles

in the over-boiled dry wood soup.


Nobody had heard my voice until that afternoon

during the Propaganda Lectures when mister Opal stood me up

by the blackboard

to recite, loud and clear, verses from The Pupils’ Manifesto;

pages two, three and four.


The first page was missing but, coming to think of it,

all our books had the first page torn out.


Mister Brown Jacket lifted my chin up,

glared at my bitten fingertips and

dismissed the whole class.


In a cupboard behind the stairwell,

the world gave birth to a



The World According to a Child Soldier

In a well-typed-bold letter, with very little spelling mistakes,

the headmaster invited my father to a political chat.


This morning, I turned up in assembly bare feet, with a red notebook.

At half past nine I escaped through a window

during the weekly fire drill and

someone noticed me drawing a swastika on the toilet door.

It was the only detail I could remember

from the history lessons up to that point.


I spent the entire day up on a hill,

editing my own handwritten freedom-pamphlet,

in the company of a shepherd and his dog.


It rained at about three o’clock and the world smelled of people.

It smelled of my father in navy-blue overalls, pacing up and down

in the quiet corner of the school library.


That night I coughed and spat out a nuclear war,

a big lump of poetry stuck in my throat;

from a hospital bed, still in recovery.


The Tortures of Freedom

Let it be known. This morning another cultural revolution starts

with a fight between my sister and I

over a plate of stale breadcrumbs.


The newsreader recites the questions during

an imaginary interview with a war hero,

minutes of silence follow and then

the high pitched hissing noise of a boiling samovar.


Water and grain – the tortures of freedom for orphans and trees.


The view from the kitchen window captures the sea of people

steadily moving towards a distant border.


No school today. The bomb exploded on our playground,

the real fight carries on at the dinner table where

the rhythm of my unacceptable rebellion grows – rooted deep well.


I am packing for England grey maps, libraries and colours;

the neighbours say just essentials.

A world on foot in my satchel.

Tissue paper wraps up the infinite possibility of a one-way road.


I may be only a 50p biro but when your fingers

close about my clear plastic shaft –

thumb and fore fingers pressing down – I feel

the tremors vibrating through my dark juices

to my silver tip from where they flow

 into any shapes you want.  I may be cheap

but I’m as classy as you could ever crave.

–  I am wanton – and I know no rule –

so make me do what ever you desire –

               my sighs are silent  

I am your slave, don’t be afraid. 

I will reveal your darkest, sweetest,

             most hidden secrets

surprise you with what you didn’t know you knew. 

Be afraid and pass right through that thin skin

To Zanadu, to Paradise and Hell  –  yours,

to reveal the longing of now,

                   for ever and ever



What am I?

I am as chaste as snow, new fallen.

Upon me you may reveal all you dream, all you fear.

I await corruption or blessing, all the same to me.

I am no priest nor critic nor spying mother.

Look upon me and do what you will.

I will gift you reflection of your willingness

To smile, to cry, to reveal your secrets.

You may risk upon me with tenderness,

With longing.  Let them out.

All those miserable, trapped sinners.

I am a playground, an unexplored jungle.

Let yourself loose upon me.


Rick Vick