the boy in the park

I remember seeing you
that first day sitting in the stink
of the wet flagged floor
of a green walled prison cell.
A young blond haired boy
looking so much younger
than the ten years of age
of the birth date you gave.
And thirty three years
have passed since then.
but you greet me with the same
mischievous narrow lipped smile.
In all the years I’ve known you
that bit of you has never changed
through the visits I’ve made
and all the prisons we name
like some tourist guide
of the broken and lost years.
And you still call me
by my first name
as you’ve always done
“How are you?” you ask
when you shake my hand
with the firm grip of an old friend.
And I have reminded you
so many times over these years
that you are a miracle
to have survived and be able
to tell your tale. A tale
I know you will never tell again.
You ask if the book is written
about you and your friends
the boys out there in the park.
“Not yet” I say. Realising again
I know your story off by heart
if that is the right phrase to use.
For I am the history man.
A man who has reluctantly stored
like a cursed gift the stories
over forty working years of each boy
and each girl, each woman and man
who has shared their secrets at a time
when life for each one had become
too hard, just too hard, and too much,
for each of you alone to bear.
And I have held your stories
in the knowing confidence
of some cloaked priest.
For I am the history man
wishing that I could let go
of all those stories told and heard
of all those stories I know.
But feeling that if I do let go
it would be just another betrayal
in such a long and pitiless
unforgiving list of humiliation.
I ask you about Jason
and hear you say
words I’d half expected
“Oh Jason – he’s ‘gone on’.
And so one by one the boys
in the park take their leave.
Young men who should
by rights have lived long lives
but drugs, alcohol and those memories
that stalked their waking day
and the nights of endless terror
and the trap of silence
inevitably take its toll.
And one of the boys in the park
homeless for fifteen years.
who still greets me each day
smiling tells me his news
“I have a home at last.
A home to go to,
to get in out of this rain”
But the boy still sits in the park
sheltering from the remorseless
disdain of an unforgiving world
lacking in compassion or the ability
to refrain from heaping and piling
on your too broad shoulders.
the unending blame for all
that is wrong with the cruel
virtual selfishness of their digital
shallow flat screen world.
I greet each one of you
I meet pleased to see
that you too have not “gone on”.
For I am the history man.

© 2017, Ron Cullen


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

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