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Conscription

by Elizabeth Biz Diedrick 3 years ago in slam poetry
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When home is a war zone...

By March or April everyone at school was begging for summer

but not me

I remember year after year I got judgmental stares

When in a crowd of summer fever

I said I didn't want school to end.

looks of disgust

when I said I loved school

when I said I hated summer.

The desks give me a sense of stability

The teachers gave me attention and affection I so desperately needed

The books let me escape into my imagination

The math problems no one else answered made me feel accomplished

for once

My grades on a slip of paper were the one thing that could bring me praise

Because it seemed I wasn't good at anything else

the bookworm

the nerd

the freak

the teacher's pet

that

was me.

Back then school was a home to me when going to my house felt like going to war.

I'd pick up my bag and sit in the soldier-bus in silence

until my feet greeted the doorstep

I'd take a deep breath

preparing for the explosions and casualties

and I'd open the door

quietly

careful to be unnoticed by my enemy.

My room was the panic-pit of safety

in a minefield waiting for its victim to emerge

At school, my home, I didn't have to worry about mistakes

and I rarely made any

But in that house

it was a different story

one slip-up

and hell itself would greet me

An open hand would pull the trigger

a purple stain was the bullet wound

and the words would set off bombs in my mind

destroying the dwindling fields of self-esteem and emotional stability

war-knives engraved memories

traumatization came easily.

I may have been a soldier,

but I had no strength to lift a gun

pointed at someone I both feared

and loved.

Morning was my shipment home

battle-wounds hidden under clothing

A teacher's smiling face would greet me

and I'd find a family-like net of safety

The other kids may laugh and shame me

but at home I was invincible

I couldn't be touched

and my self-esteem was too nonexistent to be knocked down.

I'd collect report cards like pictures of loved ones to keep me company

At home I didn't have to think of the war at that house

I could pretend it never happened

pretend hard corners of walls caused those stains

Summer was the longest active duty

until years later

when the soldier decided

to raise the gun.

slam poetry

About the author

Elizabeth Biz Diedrick

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