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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Parkin

NaPoWriMo 18: Me or Him, Even


A really quick one today, from both Jo Bell’s prompt (write about something you feel guilty for) and the NaPoWriMo prompt, to start with the same word as you finish with.

So I’ve done both – about a time at school which stays with me, when I pushed someone (after an embarrassing incident) who then fell off a table, on to a chair, tipped back and got concussion.

To this day, I still don’t know if I meant that to happen, or just to get them to shut up. Either way, the outcome was the same.

I was also thinking about third-person and about balancing one’s idea of self now and then, I guess. So here’s a poem of guilt (and/or embarrassment, and/or shame) about that incident – which starts and finishes with the word ‘Even’:

Me or Him, Even

or, Exchange Rate

Even now, he sees himself, in poet-first

third-person, pushing another

off a desk. Then the word

Concussion. The phrase

Get a teacher.

Did he mean it? He still doesn’t know.

Or where the memory should go.

There are several places –

guilt, embarrassment, shame –

three different addresses on the same

street: a whole neighbourhood

of doubt.

The victim sits on a table, pointing, laughing

at my basketball-bruised red face

(from his moments-ago powerful throw).

Then the shut-up-shove and there he goes,

dropping into a chair. It pivots – over-

balances, like teachers (like me) warn they will –

out-of-control, back, against the wall.

He was surely culpable, vengeful.

Then the changing rooms chants

when he was off school. Being named

Murderer.  He was surely shamed.

But what’s the difference

what box I put it in? Even now

I do not know what makes

intention and action,

me and him,


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