Friday, May 13, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This


By Tim Schaefer

Online bullying? 

when I was comin' up
it was up close
and personal
and in your face
(not Facebook)

one thing it does
when you're on the receiving end
is helps to build character

so develop a hard shell
like that giant tortoise at the zoo
(and shine it with turtle wax)
and have some empathy
for your tormentors
for they are hurting
the same as you


consider the source

can't tell you how many times
that has seen me through

never once validated
or took their words
to heart

that's called knowing who you are

never knew anyone
of my generation
(them damn hippies!)
who checked out over it


there is a place
deep inside
at your very core
where no one can hurt you

find it

it is your strength
and your reserve
and one day
it will lead you

into the sun

The recent April challenges for Poetry Month resulted in much wonderful poetry. Impossible to single out favourites from such riches – yet this one particularly caught my eye, for its subject matter as well as its execution. I hope these words, based on personal experience, might reach and help those who need them. 

I notice that these days I don't write much socio-political stuff any more, and that I don't think highly of those I did write in my fiery youth. Such things can date easily, and the heat of the moment is not always a good place to write from. 

This poem avoids such traps by focusing on that personal aspect which is also universal, from a very human perspective.

We know that online bullying is a serious issue. Tim reminds us that it is a new form of an old problem, and that it is possible to withstand it. His words put me in mind of good fatherly advice. Which is not to say that this advice can reach all the bullied kids in the world, nor that it could get through to all of them if it did – but we have to do what we can, don't we, if we see a possibility? What better way for a poet to address the problem? We can send out our words like the proverbial bread upon the waters, and hope and pray they may have an effect.

Many of us know Tim Schaefer better as Timoteo, his blogging name. When I asked him for some details about himself, he sent me these bio notes:

Self-proclaimed desert rat Tim Schaefer resides in southern Arizona. He spent way too many years as a rock n roll radio deejay--both inside and outside the continental United States--yet somehow survived!  His poetry, essays, and short stories have appeared in South Dakota Review, Mind In Motion, The Awareness Journal, and other literary publications. His first book, Darwin's Moon, is a memoir of high times and low places. Wending its way through the stories and poems of his latest offering, Last Tango In Timbuktu, is the theme of chance encounters and the strange bedfellows they create. Tim blogs at Catnip and also collaborates on a film review blog with author and Broadway playwright Jill Williams at Timmy's Noodle FilmReviews.

I've just had a look at the film reviews. Very informative (about the stuff you want to know – while avoiding spoilers) and very readable!

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. Good to see one of my favorite bloggers and poets in the spotlight. Tim has a way with words and humor that few can match, never letting that wit keep the seriousness too hidden or the seriousness overwhelm life's intrinsic absurdity. Not many things make me laugh out loud these days, but Tim often does, (as well as make me think.) Great to read this poem, as well.

  2. Thanks for this poem! I like the aspect of generation to generation. There was a loving core in hippydom--difficult to articulate today--that did not suicide (though it might take drugs). This is not the same as the cruel advice to "get over it." I wonder if Tim would let me use his poem as part of next week's PU Midweek Motif ~ Bullying?

    1. Yes indeed, Susan--use it.

    2. Thank you, Timoteo! If you like I'll link here and to your blog.

    3. That would be great! Thanks.

  3. Thanks Rosemary for sharing this wonderful post..

  4. Indeed I did think of Susan's theme for Midweek Motif next week when I read Tim's words. Somehow I think that online bullying can be much crueler than physical bullying. It scares me more anyway, as I think of my grandchildren growing up (not yet involved with social media) and how vulnerable they will be to tormenters that the adults in their lives may not even be aware of. There may be a "place at your core where no one can hurt you," but even if a person intellectually agrees with that it may not be much comfort to someone undergoing the kinds of online bullying that we mature adults cannot imagine until we hear about a teen suicide and find out why.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mary. That "place at your core," for me, was not on an intellectual level, but a real, tangible, visceral, even spiritual level, and it's what saved me in the end. Trying to make valid comparisons on the effects of bullying from one generation to another is tough, like comparing baseball players from different eras and speculating as to who would beat who. Ultimately a useless exercise. When I wrote "consider the source" in my poem, it meant that bullying behavior says much more about the perpetrator than it does the victim, and for kids to interpret the slings and arrows and unkind words delivered by the perpetrator as a measure of their own self worth is a mistake.

  5. I remember this poem just recently. Enjoyed it a lot. Although I cannot relate to having empathy for the tormentors.There is a place for tormentors..a deep dark and lonely one ...far far away:

  6. Another timeless poem from Schaefer. This poem should be made into a rap song for kids and used as part of an anti-bullying campaign.

  7. Thank goodness I haven't run into this. I enjoyed reading the poem and the post.

  8. Oh I love this poem, which has such loving wisdom in its message. If only all kids were told they have that place inside. Had I known that, and to listen to it, it would have saved me a thousand miles of bad road, LOL. Tim, I love your work, your clear voice, your humour and your presence in the blosphere. Rosemary, great pick . I wish I'd written this too!

  9. I like that Tim recognizes that bullies are hurting. So sad they express their pain by bringing pain to others. This poem is full of wisdom. I do wish not only that I'd written this, but that all kids could read it. Thank you Rosemary for bringing this one to light.

  10. wow! I love this poem. This is so inspiring :)


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