It’s a grey day

but we’re outside anyway

everything and nothing to say

stood by the wall

everything’s boring when you don’t have a ball

girls are the enemy

Danny’s been telling me

he’s older than me

and with that extra year’s grown bolder than me

some kids think they’re cool

but Danny’s colder you see


I stand with almost every break-time

and he takes time to tell me things

and even well the bell rings

he just stands there like he doesn’t care

-I don’t care

he says,

-Them teachers don’t know nothing

we did double negatives last week

but I keep bluffing

-Nah I know

I say

-Who needs dumb sums and a village with 3 corners?

-What you talking about?!

he says, like a warning and

I make a mental note to remember to stay quiet

our diet consists of Wham! Bars, Wotsits and IronBru

Danny has a habit of lying and I wanna be like him

so I’m trying too

-So who would you choose?

he says

and I realise I’m not listening

I was smelling the after-rain and admiring the tarmac glistening

-Are you listening? You baby! Come on, start paying attention. Either your mom or your dad has to die, who do you choose? Answer the question!

it’s distressing, a horrible thought

but I’m caught in the pressure of peers

and I’m thinking most days I’m hating the bell

but now I’m praying that teacher appears

ding dong

so I’m seemingly saved by the bell

but the sentence seems to be engraved like a spell on my mind

Danny just stands with his plans to play rebel and I?

I walk hand in hand with the question inside

either mom or dad has to die, ignoring the reasons why

I must choose

and before dinner time



I love my dad

he checks my homework like mom

or fusses about school

he’s cool

he says I have to make my own rules

he rules!

I see him thinking while he’s stood at the sink

he’s not tight with his money and turns real funny at night

when he’s having a drink

he says one day he’ll teach me to wink

but not right now, cos I know that he’s busy

some days he spins me round with his hand

and I have to sit down cos I’m dizzy

my dad is the boss

he’s always working

he hides treasure that he drinks from a bottle that stinks

in the basket we keep dirty shirts in

nothing ever hurts him

he’s pretty much perfect

and if I close my eyes and try pretty hard

I’m sure I can hear his voice

and though mom cooks my food and takes away my bad mood

I’m sure Danny thinks that dad’s the right choice


I don’t eat with the rest

cos I’m trying my best to avoid what I know must be coming

my stomach feels tight

and under white cotton vest

it feels like my chest’s got a drum in

some kids come runnin from inside the hall

and I wish I was small or a hundred feet tall

so I could hide from Danny, or threaten to squash him

but I’m not

my face and my palms feel hot

I don’t like this game

I’m pretty sure I love mom and dad the same

and I know Danny hasn’t got a mom

but I’m not to blame

we’re just not the same

nah, he’s better, cos he’s older

and just then I feel a hand on my shoulder

for a split second I think of my dad, then my mom, then my dad again

and before I have a chance to feel sad again

his voice says

-So who would it be? I didn’t forget

I turn round to face him and I must look upset

cos he says

-Don’t be such a girl! Just choose! It’s easy!

and although I feel queasy, I know what I’m supposed to say,


-Mom. My mom would die and I’d live at home with my dad

it feels like a weight has come off my shoulders and now I’ve told him

it’s not that bad

Danny smiles and I feel warm inside

as I think about all he’s been telling me

he says,

-Moms are pretty much grown up girls and remember, girls are the enemy

a ball flies past and at last I’ve impressed him

passed the test and avoided a dare

so we start to play

and though the day’s still grey

I have to say

I really don’t care

Copyright: unpublished poem, © Steven Camden 2018, used by permission of the author.

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Steven’s poems bring us into the familiar world of school – but with his sharp eye for detail, as well as his talent for creating ...

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