Rosebery State School

Too often shamed with 'Why can't you?
Your younger brother can', fear left
No space for 'Mental' at the speed
Miss Smith imposed. Marked nought, it meant

I failed The Weekly Test despite
Top score for other skills. Tirades,
The ruler's edge applied to locked,
Chilblained knuckles, the backs of bare

Legs beaten till as ugly as
Hers warmed by radiator bars,
Or metal pipes that smelt of our
Spit sizzling, all to no avail,

And out to prove that brains possessed
For other subjects were as good
For maths, she sent me, with 'Pud', 'Boof-'
Sheep-, Shit-head', 'Porky', to be caned.

Incorrigibles corridored,
We stood in line and waited for
The headmaster to magically
Convert the cat into bamboo,

Mishitting, usually, because
Ambitiously he went for thumbs
And fingertips, disfiguring
As far afield as backs of hands,

Until 'six of the best' was pain
To hug and dance with, proudly show
As wounds from God Himself. Indeed,
In old age, free from fear and quick

As tongue's and stick's sharp flash, this sum
Done in my head tots up to say
That scourging words and splintering rod
Both festered into childhood's Cross.