‘Sticks and Stones’, that’s what you say –
Emotional pain is nothing
To the Bully, the Liar, the Friend who’s become wolves’ clothing.
The person I didn’t know you’d be.
But you don’t know what I feel
Because it’s inside me.
And these walls between who we are
And what the world expects
Are hard to break down, even for
The wolf in friend’s clothing, the person you trust.
Still, I let them fall.
Just for a moment.
I let myself fall.
The sneers and the fear,
I opened myself up to every last bit of it.
I stood there in front of you, bleeding and broken
As I had been since the day I’d realised
That love was a four-letter-word
When you asked for acceptance.
I stood there in front of you
Honest as I’d never truly been
And you laughed.
But not on the outside; no
I’d already made that mistake once.
I cried on the inside and my heart became petrified.
I shut myself up behind those walls,
Those walls that had felt so suffocating before
And were now all that kept me safe.
But it was too late; you’d seen behind
These walls, and you knew me.
Or you thought you did –You were clever enough to see the tears, at least, and you said,
‘Sticks and Stones.’
‘Sticks and Stones’, as if that changed my life,
As if you really meant an olive branch and my heart.
‘Sticks and Stones’? How about
Hatred? How about hatred of yourself,
Fear of yourself — lack of a self to hate or fear
Because you’ve hidden it behind so many walls
That even you can’t find it?
That you don’t even want to find it?
If I told you what you’d done,
Would you still laugh?
Would you look at my walls differently?
Or would you laugh and say ‘Sticks and Stones’?
If I was brave enough, I’d explain it to you,
Break down the walls with a hammer of my own self-confidence,
Throw the remnants at you and see how you liked
Your ‘Sticks and Stones’.
But I’m not brave enough.
Because of you.
One day, I won’t need sticks or stones
To make you see your mistake.
One day, I’ll just need my smile
And a glance that says ‘Do I know you?’
Until then, I suppose you’ll just keep breaking my bones.